Let’s face it, it’s not one of the most exciting things to look forward to.
But isn’t a review of performance supposed to be a good thing? Don’t we all want to grow and become better learners with constructive criticism and guidance from managers? The answer is we do, but the way these reviews are conducted is not the most encouraging of sorts.
Having a performance review process that does not benefit employees is like a one-sided relationship that can never work. If reviews are only limited to deciding who to give a raise and who to fire, it does not really think about what employees want from them. Perhaps this is why employee turnover rates are at an all-time high and causing major losses to organizations.
Employee performance reviews need to be more about employee needs than just a process that needs to be ticked off the list. To achieve this, organizations need to address the following criticisms of current processes of performance reviews:
1. Reviews do not involve professional development
Professional development is one of the major drivers of employee engagement in today’s world. Career growth and mentorship sit at the top of the list of things that millennials want from their jobs. In fact, 95% of millennials are willing to pay for their own professional development and training.
Today’s workforce is driven and wants to grow in their profession. If organizations expect their employees to be productive, they should give employees the tools to be able to achieve higher standards of performance. Employees who are continually developed are twice as likely to spend their career with their company.
Performance reviews are the best ways to analyze performance, offer training, guidance from leaders and bosses, and feedback on how to keep growing in the professional sphere. But this goes completely missing in reviews. 76% of employees don’t even feel heard during reviews. Even if concerns are touched upon during review conversations, they aren’t addressed after it. This leads to stagnancy and loss of interest in sticking around with the company.
2. Reviews do not involve genuine feedback
Quality feedback is important for any organization as it helps improve worker engagement as well as increase productivity. According to a study by PwC, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or a weekly basis. This number increased to 72% for employees under the age of 30.
Feedback is an essential part of successful performance reviews. And feedback cannot be once in a year event where everything is collated and showered upon the employee in one go. Feedback needs to be regular and carefully crafted. It should be given by choosing the right words, actions and should be honest and specific. Most feedback sessions during reviews, however, end up being a one-way street with the employee listening to what the manager has to say. This is not how it works.
Giving feedback is complicated. It requires caution, a great deal of maturity and genuine interest in the person’s growth, to state the minimum. The goal of a quality feedback should not be to share opinions but to get a better sense of the receiver’s strengths and weaknesses, without undermining or shaming him/her in any way. Mastering communication for this is hence, most critical. Without making employees feel like they matter and are genuinely cared for, reviews are going to fail.
3. Organizational culture does not encourage better performance
Performance reviews need to be conducted keeping in mind the values and culture of an organization. However, this is far from reality. In most cases, employees are clueless about what exactly is expected out of them, and in almost all cases employees have no idea about the cultural values that the organization upholds.
Culture continues to play a huge intangible role in defining employee sentiments. According to Tiny Pulse’s 2017 report on employee engagement, culture’s impact on employee engagement was the highest. Aspects such as competitive benefits, flexible schedule and work-life balance were in fact found to have a low correlation to employee happiness. If organizations help promote and sustain a common cultural value and associate it with the way performance is measured and encouraged, there will be more uniformity in approaching it. Reviews from Glassdoor data also showed that culture and values of the organization become more important as the income of an employee increase. Thus, analyze if your top talent is satisfied with the culture or not. If not, make changes through discussions and surveys, and keep them satisfied to retain them for long.
Is robust communication the key?
Frequent and well-planned communication can go a long way in creating a culture where performance reviews are looked forward to. Nobody likes to be pushed or forced to do something against one’s will. It should feel like a natural part of the system. Perhaps this is why organizations are increasingly adopting frequent communication as a way to conduct reviews. This is why ongoing, real-time and 360-degree feedback is a top HR trend.
Make sure you communicate what employees are needed to do at regular intervals, and also keep a check on how they are doing. Till the element of growth and transparent communication isn’t implemented, performance reviews will continue to be annual nightmares.