Nobody likes it when it’s time for performance reviews again. Your employees hate receiving them, and even your managers generally don’t like carrying them out.
In fact, studies show that employees hate getting critical feedback in their performance reviews, even those who are most open to learning new skills and might be expected to take constructive criticism in stride.
Despite this, recent research showed that performance reviews retain much value for companies, provided they carry them out in an effective manner.
In fact, companies which conduct effective performance reviews turn out to be 30% more likely to meet their financial targets. They are also three times as likely to manage change successfully.
Because of this, it’s worth training your managers to deliver effective performance reviews, so they can deliver fair and actionable assessments to their direct reports.
But more importantly, you need to convince your employees of the value of performance reviews, and get them to buy-in to the need for them.
Here are several ways you can help your employees understand how valuable performance reviews can be to their career.
3 Steps Towards Helping Your Employees Understand The Value of Performance Reviews
1. Communicate The Benefits Clearly
The main reason why your employees dread performance review time, is because no one likes hearing criticism about their work.
And many of them are likely to see performance reviews simply as an opportunity for their managers to reprimand them, and maybe even impose consequences for any perceived shortcomings.
And it’s true that honest feedback is a crucial component of any performance review. But to convince your employees of their necessity, you must emphasize the benefits such reviews have for them.
For example, you should take the effort to demonstrate how performance reviews align an individual employee’s role and daily tasks with the company’s overall objectives.
This helps them understand why their work matters, as opposed to just doing their job because they were asked to. It also helps them feel like members of a team, instead of being isolated in their own bubble.
Another way you can convince your employees of the value of performance reviews, is to emphasise that they’re not intended to find reasons to reprimand them. Instead, you should frame them as a check-in on these employees, to understand any underlying issues they may be facing in the course of their day-to-day work.
To that effect, you should consider reframing negative feedback during performance reviews. This doesn’t mean not giving constructive criticism, but rather doing so in a way that respects your employees, and highlights their potential for improvement rather than past mistakes.
You can also highlight how they can be useful in preventing misunderstandings between themselves and their management, and as a way to recalibrate tasks and workloads should it be necessary.
Last but not least, let your employees know that performance reviews are not just a means of finding out how they can do better, but also to highlight which areas they’ve excelled in. This means that they can contribute to said employee’s promotion and/or pay raise prospects, and you should let them know about this as well.
2. Demonstrate that Performance Reviews Lead to Real Change
Another reason why your employees might detest performance reviews is if they don’t believe it will lead to any improvements based on their feedback, either individually or for your company as a whole.
This would cause them to see the whole thing as a huge waste of time, or worse still, feel cheated that their feedback has not been taken into account.
Therefore, you have to emphasize to your managers that their role during a performance review is not just to receive feedback and seek to correct their direct report’s shortcomings, but also to listen seriously to said employee feedback.
Have your managers encourage their direct reports to use performance reviews as a time to have them discuss what’s on their minds regarding their work life, and how they see themselves in your company.
They should also be prepared to address important topics not usually touched on in regular conversations, such as;
- Conscious or unconscious bias
- Whether excellence in their work is recognized
- How individual employees can fulfill their own goals, and serve your company better at the same time.
Through this, you can frame performance reviews as windows of opportunity to discuss the challenges an employee is facing, and develop plans and strategies for tackling them. Your managers can play an important part in convincing your employees to take this mindset towards performance reviews.
More importantly, the most effective way to convince your employees that performance reviews aren’t a waste of their time, is to actually follow up and take action based on their feedback.
By doing so and getting results, you can definitively prove to your employees that their feedback has been taken into account, and is valued within your company.
3. Build A Company Culture That Prioritises Feedback And Recognition
The first two steps involve demonstrating the benefits of performance reviews to your employees, and showing them that your company does take action based on their feedback provide in these reviews.
Once you’ve done both, you can build upon it to create a company culture of positive feedback and recognition.
Such a culture would go beyond performance reviews for individual employees. It would set expectations that employees will have their good work recognized by your company, and also that your company will offer constructive advice when they face new challenges and opportunities.
But to bring about such a company culture, your company must consistently prioritize feedback and recognition before, during, and after performance reviews. This will help your employees to see performance reviews as a positive formal exercise designed to help them grow, and thus reduce the anxiety and hostility they feel towards them.
To that effect, encourage your managers to get comfortable with soliciting feedback. For example, they can survey employee opinions, adopt a development-oriented mindset, and going deeper into specific areas when necessary.
However, a culture of positive feedback and recognition is not a one-way street. It involves two-way communication between leadership and employees within your company, and not only promotes engagement, but also improves the performance review process in a few ways.
To build this sort of two-way communication, get your employees involved in the process of designing the performance reviews. Have both your managers and employees agree on the competencies the latter will be rated on, and incorporate open-ended questions which gives employees a voice outside of a rating scale.
This gives your employees a stake in the performance review as well, and makes it much less likely they will feel it’s irrelevant or otherwise unfair to their actual contributions.
Additionally, consider implementing self-review and 360-degree feedback mechanisms, so that your employees can voice their opinions on themselves, their peers, and their managers.
Through this, your employees can become active contributors to their performance reviews, and also encourage your managers to act respectfully and without bias towards their direct reports.
When Your Employees Understand The Value Of Performance Reviews, You Can Get Buy-in From Them
Performance reviews are an important tool to help manage the performance levels of your employees, despite their general unpopularity.
But they can be even more effective when you’ve successfully convinced your employees of their value, and get them to buy-in to them.
To do so, you need to show your employees how performance reviews can be beneficial to their work life and career prospects, and that their feedback can lead to real change within your company.
Once you’ve achieved that, you’re on your way to creating a culture of feedback and recognition within your company that extends beyond your performance reviews, and can be valuable in bringing about effective improvement in your business processes.