Confessions of a performance review convert: no pain, no gain?…no longer!
Posted by Louise Barnfield on August 27, 2009
I’ve noticed that performance review meetings with my manager have evolved over the past couple of years, and my performance document looks very different too. It has become a living, breathing document over the course of the entire year, and, as a result it is more complete and more relevant, both as a history and as a roadmap.
In the past, I admit I was prone to similar mistakes that Meg called out in an earlier post on performance reviews. Thanks Meg, I learned a lot from that post!
Happily, over time, she and others have encouraged me to improve my own self-evaluation process, and this in turn has provided better input for my manager, enabling him to make more comprehensive and constructive comments himself. I spend more time on the process than I used to, because it matters to me more – and it matters to me more, because it’s very evident that it matters to our management team.
Meg has strongly encouraged us to have more frequent reviews with our manager, to summarize progress on our goals, and adjust as necessary. On second thoughts, for ‘strongly encouraged’ read ‘mercilessly nagged’!!
When I perceive the importance that’s placed on this process, then I’m willing to invest more in it myself.
This has meant, for this past year in particular, that I’ve updated my performance document at quarterly intervals, which made the final summary far more manageable and more meaningful, as I could see my own progress over the entire year. Since I didn’t have to conjure up 52 weeks’ worth of information when faced with the end-of-year deadline, it also meant I spent that time more productively reflecting on the year’s events and on where I want to go in the future.
In support of this frequent update process, a recent BusinessWeek article, The Trouble with Performance Reviews, states: “…reviews occur too infrequently to provide meaningful feedback.” Luckily for me, many of the negatives raised in the article no longer apply to my performance reviews: we do “make criteria more explicit and objective and have more people involved in the ratings process, so that one person’s perceptions and biases don’t matter so much”; we do “focus more on facts and evidence and less on benchmarking and unexamined conventional wisdom.”
The annual task that I used to dread is no longer drudgery, it’s my opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a breeze. I spent a long time thinking and working on this year’s self-evaluation, but it was a more satisfying process because I was able to focus my attention differently, and now that I see the positive outcome I certainly don’t feel the pain as I used to. So: less pain, more gain – gotta love that!
For those of you who lack the benefit of your own Meg kicking you up the proverbial backside, I encourage you to do yourselves a favor: proactively keep frequent notes and write your own quarterly review – schedule it in your calendar and don’t (as I’ve been known to do) let it slide into obscurity in deference to seemingly(!) higher priorities.
However, for those subjected to the same regular nagging that I am, be grateful that your managers encourage you to review your goals and keep them current. My management team recognizes the benefit of ensuring that team members are continually aligned to valid smart organizational goals, for the good of me as an individual as well as for the good of the team and the business.
I’ve already updated my 2010 performance document twice in the past 2 months! Quite a change for the person who (like our Ken) was previously dragged, kicking and screaming, through the once dreaded annual process.
Which are you, a diehard or a convert?
Photo by Little Jeanne