What’s Your Performance Review Mindset?

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If you’ve read any of my past posts on performance reviews (Putting the Fun Back in Performance Reviews, Performance Reviews: Character Issues vs. Skill Set Issues, Performance Review Mishaps), you know I like them and I look forward to doing them each year! Performance reviews should be treated as growth conversations, and if you enjoy growing and growing your teammates, they should be an open discussion and an enlightening process for everyone involved.

Since so many of us are entering the end-of-the-year annual performance review season, I wanted to spend a bit of time today discussing the mindsets that the leader and their employee should have when preparing for and participating in a review.

Mindset of the Giver (Leader)

  • Performance reviews should represent the entire year. That means your current mood about that person on the given day or week of the review should not impact their performance review scores. Keep your emotions out of it. Keep random notes and quarterly progress reviews on each person throughout the year, then pull this all out at review time.
  • Find some quiet time. Prepare for your review by finding at least 45 minutes of alone time to prepare. What do you really like about this person’s performance, and what do you wish they would do better? How can you reflect this feedback into your review scores?
  • Encourage where you can, so you can be firm where you need to be. Identify and bring out what they are doing well and how they are contributing to the organization.
  • Allow the receiver to grade themselves. How do they see their performance, and are you two aligned? It’s the misalignment that is most important to discuss.
  • Be clear and give examples of anything below or above expectations. Remember, “meeting expectations” is like an “A” in school. It’s good, and good is expected.
  • Allow the receiver to give you one to three areas for you to improve or change. My favorite question that I add on in addition to the scored questions outside of the traditional HR review is, “In the current season our company is in, what kind of leader do the people need me to be?”

 Mindset of the Receiver (Follower)

  • Don’t expect all “excellent” scores. If you score yourself great at everything, you’re misleading yourself, and that’s a sign of pride.
  • Be open-minded. This is an opportunity for growth. Don’t be defensive.
  • Prepare for your review. Give examples when you grade yourself higher or lower than “meets expectations.” How were you great? When did you fall short?
  • Be willing to lead up. Hopefully your leader has created an environment where it’s safe for you to lead up and share your ideas for how they can lead you.
  • Embrace the opportunity to grow. Your leader should spend some of this time sharing with you their ideas and thoughts on how you can grow in your role and go forward in the organization. Accept this feedback, and use it to be better in the coming year.

I’ll say it again: the performance review should be a growth conversation. In fact, in our organizations we now refer to these as Growth Reviews. This reinforces that were are going to have a conversation about how we can each grow. If you want to grow your organization, you must grow your people, and performance reviews are a good tool to help encourage and track that growth.

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