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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.

What Does the Interview Process Tell Candidates about Your Company?

September 12th, 2014

A growing number of managers are now factoring cultural adaptability into their candidate selection decisions, based on the idea that attitude matters just as much as aptitude when it comes to forecasting candidate success. If a candidate fits the culture, her odds of landing a job will greatly increase.

But if you’re sitting on the manager’s side of the table, recognize that the equation works both ways. If the candidate looks around your office and likes what she sees, she’ll be far more likely to accept your offer and stay with the company over the long term.

So how can you use your interview process to showcase your culture and convince the best candidates in your applicant pool to join your organization? Here are a few ways to make this happen.

1. Keep all pre-interview interactions clear and positive.

Nothing frustrates a job applicant like unanswered calls, unreturned messages, and conflicting information and instructions regarding the interview date and location. Make sure everyone who speaks to your candidate has access to the correct information and speaks in a confident and welcoming tone.

2. Take first impressions seriously.

The candidate may make her first impression when she greets you and shakes your hand. But the company starts making a first impression the minute she walks in the door. Is your lobby clean, well-lit and inviting? Is your waiting area comfortable? And most important, is the interviewer prepared and ready to conduct the meeting on time? Never leave a candidate waiting for more than fifteen minutes.

3. Confident, competent interviewers inspire trust.

You may be just as nervous as your candidate (meeting new people isn’t always easy), but try not to let this show. Have your notes or your script prepared, have a copy of the candidate’s resume in front of you, and try not to ramble or fluster.

4. Show respect for her expertise and also for her time.

You may think that you hold the power position in this dialogue, but you need your candidate as much as she needs you. Respect her willingness to share her skills and dedicate her time to this company—specifically the thirty minutes she’s spending in this interview. Keep your questions relevant.

5. Explain your culture as well as you can.

This can be a tall order, but if you provide accurate and honest information about your culture, your candidate will be better able to make an informed decision.

For more on how to keep your interview process meaningful for parties on both sides of the table, reach out to the Fairfeld County staffing professionals at Merritt Staffing.

Hiring Strategies: Immediate Need Vs Long Term Growth Potential

July 25th, 2014

When you envision your ideal candidate, are you picturing someone who can step into your open position, start contributing immediately, and occupy this role into the indefinite future? Or are you picturing a candidate who will hold this role only long enough to gain the experience and exposure she needs to reach the next level? In other words, are you looking for skilled candidates who can meet your immediate needs, or are you hiring for traits that bring greater returns in the future than they will in the present? Here are a few traits to look for in each case.

Hiring for Immediate Need

If you need a candidate who can step directly into a skilled position and contribute high returns right away, you’ll need someone who already possesses expensive certifications, training and experience that can take years to obtain. On the positive side, these qualifications can be easy to measure, easy to test, and easy to state on a resume. Either the candidate has them or she doesn’t. On the negative side, a well prepared candidate comes with a high salary premium. If you hire an untrained, high potential prospect, you can pay a discounted salary and provide the necessary training at your own expense and under your own aegis.

Hiring For Long Term Growth Potential

As mentioned above, hiring for long term potential places training costs and risk in the employers hands. But these things also become the employer’s responsibility, and if the candidate fails to live out her potential, the cost of the failure falls entirely onto the employer. A high potential candidate has skills and qualifications that can be difficult to measure.

For example, an immediate need candidate holds a degree, a state license, and four years of relevant experience. A high potential candidate holds none of these things, but her personality traits and non-relevant track record suggest that she’s smart and driven and she’ll gather these credentials in due time. Measuring certifications is easy. Measuring intelligence and drive can subjective and complex. Before you pursue this route, review data that show a clear link between the personality traits you’re targeting and success with this position over the long term.

For more information that can help you determine which hiring strategy will better meet your needs, contact the staffing experts at Merritt.

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