Spooky Performance Reviews

Published on June 9, 2020

Years ago, I worked with a corporate attorney with a plaque in her office, “No Surprises!” How many of us like negative bombshells? Just like the employee sitting down for their performance review, attorneys find surprises to be quite spooky. We want performance reviews with frequent feedback and effective leadership!

Chris Rhatigan on the Tiny Pulse blog mentions a few unnecessary surprises. Employees should never be kept in the dark until the end of the year. Feedback should be specific. Nothing demoralizes the employment relationship more than hearing, “good job”, followed by a negative review. Rhatigan also mentions a situation where an employee received a late night telephone call designed to “complete the review” that was likely intended to meet the next day’s deadline.

Performance reviews with frequent feedback is critical to creating the environment for no surprises. Besides this, other important considerations are:
* Ensure goal setting is effective; and annual or periodic goals are a focus of employee’s efforts throughout the year.
* Use employee self-appraisal where possible.
* Avoid basing a review on the last several weeks of the review period.
* Don’t enter the performance review unprepared. Review the position job description. Anticipate feelings and questions.
* Be specific in feedback and the review, provide examples where necessary. Make sure frequent feedback is provided!
* Avoid vague language like, “You need to work harder.”
* Do not use rankings such as, “You placed 4th out of 6 in your position.”
* Constructive feedback is both positive and negative. Use both.
* Make development plans part of the review process.
* Ask questions and be an active listener. What does your employee feel they need to work on?
* Use the performance review to develop trust, not destroy it.

An invaluable tool such as the Hawthorne Performance Solution will help organizations overcome many of the problems with the dreaded and spooky performance tool. Contact us for more information!