…because some thoughts are worth remembering
Traditional performance reviews are under attack, and for good reason. Like many policies and systems, they are unfortunately designed to be fail-safe for the worst managers to be able to take on some supervisory duties, and the reviews are written as a way to defend the company’s decisions and actions in the future.
Done right (and there are many ways to approach them, including the Bento method of drafting it, and the value-based pyramid on what metrics to use), it can be used as a vehicle for periodic mentoring.
When I conduct a performance review, I make sure that one of my responsibilities to the employees is to validate the things they know to be true (accomplishments, improvements needed), but also point out what they didn’t know about their own performance. Even better, talk through some of the trends that they discover something, or make a connection they didn’t before. When you as their supervisor make room for exploration of the fundamental driving forces of the staff, time slows down and big picture starts to appear. The big picture for them is important because when they connect their values to the company mission, the details of your instructions become unnecessary, because they figure it out themselves. When they figure it out what needs to be done, and you validate them, the chances of them being able to go through the changes and complete the tasks increase.
These are often meta points that underlines their performance. When the connection is made, it can be a surprise to both parties (e.g., realization of a very effective employee that her family pegged her as not ambitious enough, despite there was no sign of this individual being unambitious). As a supervisor, knowing their values and how they were formed can help better guide their career and their performance.
Photo: Flowers in Stavanger’s Old Town, Norway