The SystematicHR blog has an interesting post about discussion on the Harvard Business Review Working Knowledge site about performance reviews and what can be done to make them better. Below are a few of my guiding principles for making performance reviews more effective:
- Garbage In = Garbage Out -- One can have the best system in the world, but if they do not set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-based) goals, then it is hard to have accountability. In addition, if you do not have the right competencies identified, then the best assessment technology will not help identify the right developmental opportunities.
- Begin With the End in Mind -- I am borrowing here from Steven Covey. However, it is important that you understand what you want to accomplish by doing performance reviews. For example, there are religious debates about whether or not assessments should be part of a performance review. I will not takes sides on this because I think the mechanics of this is less important. What is important is the conversation you want to facilitate between supervisor and employee. Do you want to focus on development? Do you want to focus on motivation (e.g., how performance impacts compensation)? Do you want to focus on career development? Do you just want to make sure that everyone gets a performance review? Do you want to do all of the above? This is where most performance review processes fall down. Most organizations do not think about what they want to get out of the process and how they can best facilitate the conversation to make that happen.
- Performance Reviews May Be An Annual Process, But Performance Management Should Happen All the Time -- This is my biggest pet peeve. Let's face it. In most organizations, performance reviews are annual administrative exercise. it is something that managers have to do. It is something employees do not think is fair and balanced (much less really aligned with compensation). Good managers should be communicating with employees regularly about performance and development. It should not be an annual event. Again, it is the conversation (in this case the frequency of that conversation) that is important.
OK, time to get off the soapbox. What else should be on the list of guiding principles for performance reviews.