Unleashing the full capacity of your people

Performance Reviews done well require great communication.

Best Practices for Performance Reviews
by Brooke Bovo

Over 20 years ago one of the best bosses I ever had told me the secret to performance reviews.

Let me share that secret with you now.

Performance reviews are a two-way street. Your annual review should just be a formal written report that recaps and supports the regular feedback you and your boss have exchanged every day. Your review should practically write itself because on a daily basis your direct supervisor will have told you either: you are doing a great job, or if you do this task a little differently I think you will get a better result. (For a perspective on what is wrong with most corporate review processes, click here.)

Good Bosses Responsibilities. Good bosses clearly communicate desired outcomes. They may suggest strategies or methods for achieving those outcomes. They point out possible roadblocks and potential problems. And they manage each employee in a manner appropriate for the employee’s experience level and personality, checking in on a regular basis to ask about successes and setbacks.

With a brand new direct report top managers check in frequently. In critical applications there might be informal contacts every hour or even more often. These contacts aren’t formal meetings. They can be brief phone calls, emails, brief hallway chats or simply dropping by the employee’s workstation.

On more routine assignments, with more established employees, regular contacts might be informal communications (emails and the like) backed up by an open door policy and regular – ever week or so – brief, focused one-on-one meetings.

My boss’s parting comment was, if your boss isn’t talking with you one-on-one at least twice a month you both have a problem.

Good Employees Responsibilities.

One of your goals as an employee is to have the boss value you and be glad to see you. Mostly because you are a great employee – you are a great employee, aren’t you? – and because the meetings are useful – you provide information on successes or critical “heads up” information that can be reported to upper management which is good for both of you – and the meetings give you both the opportunity to strategize how to overcome problems.

When you start a new project, be sure to ask enough questions so that you clearly understand the task. You need to know about priority, resources and deadlines. You might not get all this information right away. Ask as many questions as you reasonably can. Then build a list of important questions to ask later, either in person or via email.

Just like you, bosses hate to be surprised. Most of the time, regular updating prevents embarrassing surprises and uncomfortable performance reviews.

Brooke is a principal partner with Bovo-Tighe, and has been helping corporate executives and their subordinates communicate better for over twenty years. Hit the Contact Us link to track her down.

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