Are you building culture or killing it?

I’m an HR Professional who dislikes Annual Performance Reviews – there, I said it!! It feels like a dirty, little secret I’ve been carrying around for years! To me, performing annual reviews feels like checking a box. It is neither motivational nor inspiring for the employee or the manager.  

Think about it this way…

Do you sit your spouse down every year on your anniversary and discuss what went well in the past year and what the area of opportunities are? Do you grade them on their ability to meet your expectations? Hey honey, you get a four for taking care of us. It’s not a five because, well, nobody is perfect!

How about your kids? Do you sit them down once a year and talk about that time they missed curfew six months ago? Or how about that time they did what was asked of them three months ago? Do you tell them what their goals should be for the next year and then don’t discuss them again until their next birthday?

If your employees are as important as you say they are, why are you only having these conversations once a year and worse yet, why are you giving them a grade?

Does this mean I don’t believe in performance management – absolutely not! Performance management can be a great culture builder. Annual performance reviews, in my opinion, can be culture killers.

Performance management is an ONGOING communication process between you and your employee THROUGHOUT the year. It is two-way communication that doesn’t use ratings, grades, or scales.

If you can’t take the time to have a 10-15 minute discussion with your employees EVERY week – then you shouldn’t be their leader. Harsh? Maybe, but true.

Try This...

A weekly check-in – three simple questions –

  • What are you working on this week?
  • Do you have everything you need to get it done?
  • How can I help?

You could also do another quick check-in at the end of the week–

  • How did your week go?
  • What were the things you were doing that really energized you?
  • What got in the way?

If scheduling two check-ins per week with each of your direct reports hinders productivity, then at the very least, do one where you combine the recap from last week with priorities for the next week.

Let's talk about goals for a minute...

I’m a huge proponent of goals. However, here’s the deal: you can’t set goals for other people. It doesn’t work that way! The best goals are ones that intrinsically motivate you. Wants vs. Needs. Your job as a leader is to paint a picture of an inspiring future – a vision, if you will. Let your people know they are an essential part of heading toward this vision. Then, let them decide what their goals should be.

Also – think about the last year in your business. How much did things change? The goals you set in January were probably irrelevant by March. We live in an ever-changing world with things like pandemics and rising costs. Why would we set goals for an entire year and then not even look at them?

Once a year performance reviews aren’t cutting it.

This is why the weekly check-in is good. It shapes priorities around current needs instead of lofty goals that might not move the needle in your business the way you think it will.

If you’re serious about building a successful business, get serious about creating a people-first culture. One where your employees can strongly agree with:

  1. Was I excited to work every day last week?
  2. Did I have a chance to use my strengths every day?
  3. At work, do I get a chance to do what I’m good at and something that I love?

These are the highest indicators of engagement and commitment. Engaged employees are 17% more productive than those who aren’t engaged. Companies with highly engaged teams are, on average, 21% more profitable.

If you’re ready to implement an ongoing performance management system and need help, let’s talk!