Stratford Office: 203-386-8800 | Stamford Office: 203-325-3799

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.

Conduct Your Own Performance Reviews with these Self-Evaluation Tips

November 9th, 2012

If your workplace functions like most office environments, your employers probably subject you to some form of overall performance review at least once a year, usually sometime in June or January. And while performance evaluation tools and metrics differ with every industry and every business model, there are probably some clear patterns to the criteria your employers use to measure your success. There may also be some predictable steps you and your managers typically take after the review ends to help you stay on track toward company goals or shift you back in the right direction if you’ve strayed off course.

So if you recognize these patterns and criteria, and they provide a reliable picture of your yearly contributions to the company, why not take it upon yourself to increase the benefits of the review process by giving yourself an extra review a few times a year? Try these self-review tips to help you increase your value to your manager and your organization.

Self-Evaluation Tips

1. Use real criteria, and take the process seriously. Hold onto a copy of your annual review each year and apply the same questions and metrics to your performance three months later. But add your own criteria as well. If your official review offers no 1-5 ranking options for metrics like “timeliness” or “determination and follow-through regarding problem solving”, then add them. Any criteria that can used to measure how well you do your job should be factored into your unofficial review.

2. Be honest. Nobody will see this review but you, and its primary purpose is to help you identify and shore up areas of weakness. So face these areas of weakness head on and see them with clear eyes. Don’t let your ego stand between you and the truth.

3. Be honest about your strengths as well as your areas in need of improvement. We all like to be praised for our positive traits, even if the praise is unofficial, unpublished, and self-attributed. Just be as realistic as possible and give yourself credit where credit is due.

4. Follow through. There’s little value in going the process of a point-by-point non-mandatory self-evaluation if you don’t intend to do anything with the results. One you’ve completed the assessment process, form a clear plan with achievable actionable goals and a realistic timeline. If you need help with your public speaking skills, for example, don’t just give yourself low marks and move on. Reach out and take measurable action by signing up for a Toastmasters course, or asking your employer for guidance and training.

Need help following through on your self-directed employee improvement plan? The Connecticut career experts at Merritt Staffing Agency in Connecticut can help. Contact our office and find out more about our industry connections, tips, job search tools, and training resources.

© Year Merritt Staffing. Site Credits.