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A Better Approach to Annual Performance Evaluations

Summer is the time of year when many organizations conduct their annual performance evaluations. As a manager, you may procrastinate writing them. Maybe you don’t know what to say, maybe you have been avoiding a performance problem, or maybe you are unsure how to deal with the employees who have made little if any progress on their personal development since last year.

© stoonn -

© stoonn –

From an employee’s perspective, the performance review is time to show your manager your accomplishments achieved against your goals and expected outcomes, both personal and related to your job description.

How can both parties prepare for the conversation and the written review, in a way that ensures that next year’s discussion is one you both look forward to?

Give consistent feedback and recognition

First, the manager must give regular feedback throughout the year so that nothing is a surprise to the employee. Whether she does this on a monthly basis, or gives the feedback when a situation comes up, she must just do it.

Many performance management systems prompt managers to enter feedback into the system quarterly. While that is better than nothing and prevents the burden of writing all the performance evaluations once a year from scratch, it is not enough.

What I am suggesting is consistently giving feedback to the employee verbally and in writing. Take advantage of weekly progress meetings to call out great performance and appreciate your team members who did amazing things. Recognize these people throughout the year so they know where they stand. Even if the feedback is more negative, just do it. The employee deserves no surprises. In a future post we will talk about how to do this effectively.

Tie feedback to company values

Connecting a team member’s action or accomplishment to a specific company value aligns it with your team’s goals, as well as the larger organization’s goals and values. For example, if your marketing manager created a new alliance with a key partner, that meets a goal and it also connects to the company value of innovation, growth or partnership.

When you’ve done this successfully all year long, when the time comes for you to talk about the employee’s performance, you have several examples of what they did and how it connects to the overall goals and values of the organization.

When an employee says they are ready for greater responsibility, you can both see they have already contributed and could add even more value in a broader scoped job or new project.

Employees, bring accomplishments to the table

Keep a running list of accomplishments in a file, taking the time to tie each accomplishment to a company value or key initiative for that year. Aligning to corporate values will help you focus on what matters in your organization.

For example, if process improvement is key, and you created a team that tackled that new improved process, collaborating with a different department to do so, you could check off many areas: leadership, process creation, execution, results and collaboration.

Summarizing your accomplishments in this format every quarter makes your boss’s job much easier. In addition, when it is time to go for that promotional interview, you can tap into these success stories and achievements. Align yourself to what is important in your organization and watch what happens.

The annual performance evaluation process highlights key practices that managers and employers can be implementing all year round.

Do you dread performance evaluations? What would make the process easier for you? How can you begin aligning employee achievements to company values? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.

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