I get it. Performance reviews evoke a lot of different emotions: fear, dread, hope, anxiety…
They are often thought of as a sort of company-mandated, check-the-box activity for managers and employees to sit down and discuss the work done and work coming up. They are an extra activity on top of the employees’ and managers' regular workload, taking up time, effort, and mental bandwidth.
But when done correctly, they can be incredibly helpful tools for growing and aligning the organization, team, and individuals. This simple communication tool can be used as an opportunity to both reflect on the past and plan for a brighter future. They can help identify areas of improvement or growth, build better morale and teamwork, surface – and resolve – any grievances, and increase job satisfaction and motivation.
To make sure our company derives the maximum benefit from performance reviews, while also reducing anxiety around the process, we’ve implemented a few mechanisms to ensure things go smoothly, and reduce any negative feelings around the meeting.
NLX conducts biannual performance reviews using a performance management software called PerformYard. The platform enables both the employee and the manager to record their thoughts on how the quarter or half-year went, where goals stand, and examples of how they embody company values and share feedback with each other. Using PerformYard helps generate reflection and create a system of record for both sides to react to during a 1:1 discussion. With the written review as a baseline, both parties have a better idea of how the conversation might flow, given what’s written, reducing potential anxiety around the conversation. This is also a great time to bring in conversations about career development.
To further diminish any anxiety, we follow the best practice that anything said in your performance review should not be a surprise. Your review should be a recap and summary of the conversations you’ve already been having over the course of a quarter or half a year and a look forward to what’s next.
To ensure there are no surprises, I typically recommend employees host 1:1s with their managers once a week or every other week. This regular communication can help develop a relationship while also creating the opportunity to discuss a few crucial aspects:
Share critical information and updates: Ensuring you and your manager are working off of the same information helps to align the individual and the team.
Celebrate the small wins: Everyone likes to hear good news! Don’t be afraid to share something that went well this week in your 1:1.
Bring challenges and ask for advice: You’re going to encounter challenges in your career - if one pops up, bring your manager, their career experience, and their company context into the conversation to help you solve that challenge!
The people who I’ve seen do this well throughout my career tend to follow a specific formula, one that works well for managers and executives alike…