For many leaders and their teams, annual performance reviews sends chills of dread running down their spine.
A newspaper headline reported that performance reviews were not just stressful for large and small businesses employees, but were becoming increasingly more stressful for federal employers and employees.
At that time, performance measures were being introduced for federal employees in order to weed out non-productive workers. Part of the justification was that in the private sector, the dismissal rate for unsatisfactory performance was between 5 and 10% while it was .06% among federal public sector workers.
The performance review process, however, isn’t suppose to be a tool primarily used for dismissal. It is suppose to be used to tie productivity and success, serving to align staff with the organization’s priorities and expectations.
Performance reviews should be designed to evaluate general performance and measure progress around specific goals. They should acknowledge the work of staff, address areas in need of improvement, and identify professional development and training that will further support career growth. This should not be a stressful process for either party.
Are Annual Performance Reviews Dead?
Effective managers address staff performance throughout the year, providing positive acknowledgment and necessary coaching and feedback to address problematic areas or issues. Annual performance reviews, if still done within an organization, should not contain any surprises as the communication process should be on-going. Many companies have dropped annual performance reviews in favor of a system in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers immediately following assignments.
Effective Communication and the Performance Review
However, not all managers are effective at managing and communicating. Stress around performance reviews often occurs when the communication is focused or is expected to be focused on negative criticism, with little or no positive feedback or recognition.
Performance reviews done well can promote psychologically healthy workplaces. Done poorly, they add to overall stress, poor performance, and organizational strain. Click to tweet
Decreasing Stress and the Performance Review
To decrease the stress around the performance reviews, leaders should consider the following:
- Review each goal. To what degree were the expected results achieved? What contributed to the staff member’s ability to achieve the goal and produce the desired outcomes? What hindered the goal from being met? What steps can be taken to remove any barriers that interfered with success?
- Communication should be a balance of recognition, as well as expectations for reaching the next level.
- Keep feedback constructive. Be specific and objective. Use facts to support your feedback, rather than generalizations about character or attitude.
- Offer support and training to correct problem areas.
- When developing goals for the next performance period, whatever that looks like within your organization, make sure that these goals are measurable with designated timelines.
Performance Reviews Are A Part Of Employee Recognition
Finally, employee recognition should not just be a once per year activity. The Gallup Organization has found that in productive and engaged workplaces, employees receive recognition every seven days.
However, some leaders may not be doing a good enough job of focusing on the positive changes, achievements and outcomes. According to Occupational Health and Safety Management at Université Laval, of the factors cited as causes of distress, lack of employee recognition came in second, right behind overwork. A TimeJobs.com survey found that more than 35% of employees consider lack of recognition of their work as one of the biggest hindrances to their productivity.
Promote A Psychologically Healthy Workplace With Effective Performance Reviews
In our efforts to promote psychologically healthy workplaces, dynamics and culture are an important spoke to evaluate and consider. Performance reviews that are skillfully handled along with regular feedback and recognition, ensure that the organizational culture supports and promotes wellness.
According to Intelispend.com, there are 4 basic human drivers, and employee recognition should be able to tap into all of them.
- The Collector: It’s human nature to gather things and status. Plaques with years of service appeal to the desire for status. Gift card tap into this drive as well, motivating people through their desire to acquire more possessions.
- The Killer: People are biologically motivated to defend what is theirs. The winner of last year’s “Top in Sales” title isn’t going to let it go without a fight. And employees engaged by strong recognition programs will work hard to protect their company against competitive threats.
- The Socializer: Like it or not, we’re wired to bond, and most of us experience the workplace first as a social setting. This is what makes recognition so powerful: celebrating stories about accomplishments with co-workers and managers makes people feel more appreciated.
- The Explorer: People have an innate desire to contribute to something bigger in creative ways. Frequent acknowledgment of daily contributions connects us all to work in a more meaningful way, encouraging a higher level of commitment and more innovative thinking.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
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