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Making Performance Reviews Less Formal

January 13th, 2017

Performance reviews have become a necessary evil in the white collar workplace. Nobody enjoys them, the consume valuable time, and by mid-year, any lessons they’ve imparted (on either side of the table) have usually been long forgotten. But year after year, eternally hopeful HR experts strive to reshape this process, believing that it CAN somehow be rendered meaningful and fulfill its promise as a critical management tool. There’s a reason for this eternal hope: reviews really are valuable. They allow managers and employees to connect on a personal level, and they provide structure for what might otherwise be a delicate and awkward conversation. Most employees want to know how they’re doing, and most managers want to tell them. This is just a difficult bridge to cross, and it rarely leads to genuine and lasting improvements in performance.

So if you’re struggling to get more value out of your review process, try this move for 2017: Reduce the formality of your meetings. If you relax the atmosphere, both parties will be more inclined to share honest and genuine feedback. Resentment will drop (on both sides), and self-editing will give way to real talk that can make a real difference.

Encouraging Informal Reviews

Ask your managers to spend a specific amount of time on each review. Encourage them to fall neither under nor over this amount. The upper limit should prevent managers from overthinking and overworking each word and metric in the review, and the lower limit should prevent them from blowing off the process entirely. Provide similar brackets for employees as they complete their self-evaluations.

Don’t schedule your meetings too far in advance or give them too much symbolic weight. Managers should simply block out one day (or two) for all of their reviews, and structure the day as they choose. Employees should not have to forego hours of work or miss key deadlines to accommodate this minor event.

Praise and encouragement should always take precedence over negative feedback, warnings and threats. Ratios should fall at 51/49 at the very least, even for employees who are in dire need of course correction.

Meetings should be cordial and professional, and they should provide employees with a chance to demonstrate their better natures. If they’re praised, their graceful receipt of the praise should be acknowledged. If they’re lectured, coached, or accused, they should be given an opportunity to tell their side of the story or suggest an action plan that works for them. No one should ever feel like a trapped animal or a scolded child during a review. At the same time, employees should never feel embarrassed or put on the spot by well-intended praise. The meeting should feel like an adult conversation, nothing more or less.

For more on how to navigate the delicate social currents of your company’s annual review process, reach out to the Connecticut staffing experts at Merritt.

Is it Okay to Quit Without Giving Two Weeks’ Notice?

March 18th, 2016

You don’t love your current job. Your boss is disrespectful, your paycheck is ridiculous, your workplace culture is toxic, and though there are plenty of available positions above you, you’ve been denied a promotion request twice in a row. As you launch your job search and start receiving offers from potential employers, how carefully should you factor the needs of your current company into your future plans? Specifically, should you walk out when you please, or should you provide two weeks’ notice and serve out your last ten days faithfully?

As the premier staffing and employment team in the Connecticut area, with decades of collective career management experience, we recommend providing two weeks’ notice…always. Regardless of the circumstances giving notice is a standard professional courtesy that costs very little and provides big returns. Here’s why.

Your future employers expect this.

Since this is a standard and widely accepted gesture, your next employers should have no trouble scheduling your start date to accommodate a two-week overlap period. If they balk at this perfectly reasonable request or insist that you start right away, something is wrong. Look closely at the offer and make sure your new employer is professional and legitimate before you make a long-term commitment.

It’s not required, but it’s generous and gracious.

Your integrity and your reputation are among the few things that will stay with you as you move from job to job throughout your career. Whenever possible, when you leave, leave on good terms. Companies often add this final parting note to your records (whatever these records consist of), and your choice to walk out or give notice may mean the difference between a glowing recommendation and a position on a permanent blacklist.

Think about who may suffer or benefit.

When you leave abruptly, your managers must scramble to fill your position and they may be left in a serious lurch. But your managers aren’t the only ones who may suffer; think about the problems you may be creating for your co-workers, your clients, your accounts, your vendors, and anyone else who has to shoulder an extra burden until your replacement is hired. You may meet these people again during your professional life.

It won’t cost much.

In the heat of the moment, you may be so focused on the future and excited about your new job that attending to the old job for ten more days may seem like a drag — or even a waste of your valuable time. But be patient. These last days will fly by faster than you realize, and soon you’ll be on your way to your next goal and the next chapter of your career journey.

For more on how to land a new offer and what to do once that offer is in your inbox, contact the staffing professionals at Merritt.

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