Three things to remember when it comes to formulating performance reviews

Three things to remember when it comes to formulating performance reviews

Another financial year done and dusted – hopefully it was a great one for you and your business. What’s on the cards for the year ahead? What do you expect your employees to deliver on in FY15? Do they know?

The new financial year brings with it a new set of expectations and goals for your teams to execute.

Back in our corporate days, we’d spend a pretty big chunk of July/August planning out our performance review discussions with our managers, articulating our individual goals and all the things we wanted to achieve in the year ahead.

At the time, you kind of felt like you were writing a novel (and a bad one at that) where a lot of the goals and plans seemed like fluff to pad out your day-job and it was difficult to align them to your overall business and/or departmental goals. All in all, a lot of time spent to achieve not a lot of anything really, so it was easy to see why this process was always viewed as a bit of a waste of time by employees and managers alike.

The corporate processes that we were used to in this space tended to be more an opportunity to sell yourself to your manager and outline all the amazing things you planned on contributing – sure, not always a bad thing from the employee’s perspective. However, it didn’t exactly encourage productivity; it almost did the opposite and in a way conditioned unproductive behaviour where you just spent ages writing and talking about it rather than getting on with doing it.

Despite all this, we still see the value of having a performance planning and review process in place if done right. If you break down the process to its simplest form, it’s essentially just planning for success, which is something that’s always worth doing.

We encourage the clients we work with to implement one in some shape or form because (a) it’s really not hard to get right and (b) we’ve seen first-hand the benefits it has to their employees’ and overall business performance.

1. In order for your teams to plan for success, they need to know what success looks like.

A big part of the problem was that it was always tricky aligning individual goals to the overall business and departmental goals because half the time, you never really knew what these were! As a result, determining how effective and important your planned objectives were was anyone’s guess.

So your first step should be to communicate the overall business strategy, targets, key areas of focus and improvement, new initiatives, etc, for the year ahead. Without knowing this, it makes it very difficult for your employees to plan how they can contribute towards the picture of success you’ve created.

2. Keep goals and objectives relevant, simple and to a minimum.

This is where the process tends to get over-complicated and employees feel like they have to write out every… single… detail. They don’t. Keep in mind you have to read this as their manager and nobody’s got time for that, so guide your employees to keep these goals and objectives succinct and relevant to the overall business goals. If they’re not, then you may need to question why your employee has included them in their plan to begin with.

3. Set targets and clearly define how success will be measured. KPIs are an important inclusion but sometimes there’s a misconception that they have to be some fancy calculation or acronym. Not the case. For example, a KPI can be as simple as the average number of client visits a week for someone in a sales role. Of course, they’re not much good unless they’re measured against something, so make sure to set targets for the year ahead so you can use them as your benchmark to measure success throughout the year.

Implementing performance plans will allow you to track your employees’ performance regularly throughout the year to ensure they’re contributing to your picture of success. It will also give you the leverage to pull up any performance issues sooner rather than later.

The added bonus is that it will also encourage conversation about performance between you and your employees, with the objective to keep things productive – always a good way to kick off the year.

Janelle McKenzie and Abiramie Sathiamoorthy are the founders of HR firm E&I People Solutions.

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