It’s approaching that time of the year when managers are scouring about gathering after the fact data to incorporate into the annual ritual of performance review.
They sifted through reports and notes about numbers and incidence that happen months ago. They strain to remember what impact the activity and behavior had on the performance of the employee. The past months performance is inevitably influenced by what the employee is doing at this very moment good or bad.
Forms are completed and the obligatory meeting is set aside to magically capture the entire year in sixty minutes of profound insight! Another not so little caveat is simultaneously the manager is also deciding on how much of a raise the employee may or may not get.
Guess what the only thing the employee is waiting for? Your right, how much is my raise going to be!
Just a side note here, the senior leadership of the company has decided to reduce raises to a mere pittance because the overall company performance was below plan.
The additional backdrop is the reviewing manager hasn’t sat down with the employee for more than a couple of minutes the entire year because everyone has been too busy handling day to day business.
Is it any wonder most experts view the annual performance review as a “managerial boondoggle”!
It is a psychological as well as a coaching axiom that providing feedback positive or negative is most effective when delivered as close to when the behavior happens as possible. If this is an accepted fact why do companies continue this archaic practice?
The answer lies in the fact that the review is primarily a function of checking off a corporate requirement. HR tells management, to protect the enterprise against potential wrongful termination suits, records must be kept and managers must complete the paperwork exercise. That is the implicit and explicit message, thus what managers do.
In reality the best companies and indeed the best managers are providing constant feedback to their employees just like a coach coaching an athletic team. Here and now behavior is the laboratory to discuss performance and make adjustments as they occur.
These need not be monumental wins and losses, but rather the critical activities that when added up spell success or failure. Honing these areas for improvement on a continual basis has a much higher probability of impacting performance.
Another editorial note, never, I say never, include a discussion of compensation with a focused coaching session. Certainly compensation has a direct correlation to performance but they are two separate discussions.
Most world class companies have embraced the notion of frequent coaching on a day to day basis as part of what successful manager does. There are infinite opportunities to sit down with an employee and give direct and timely feedback.
This practice is augmented with at least a semi- annual formal review that is captured in writing.
Don’t underestimate the power of giving precise and timely feedback it is the foundation of continuous improvement.
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