Yes, we are in the heart of performance review time. Let’s take this time to remind ourselves and the managers within our company of these 10 common performance review pitfalls.
Continuous, Open Performance Feedback is Becoming the Norm
Gone are the days of the top-down, annual performance review. Organizations continue to open the performance feedback and evaluation process to invite participation from employees at all levels in the organization. This is now becoming the new normal and it offers a variety of benefits to employees and leaders. At the same time, it makes skills in providing helpful performance feedback a requirement for the entire talent pool…not just managers. Without these skills, the quality of the feedback will be limited and employees won’t get the feedback they need to develop and enhance their performance.
Feedback Now: Because we all <3 spreading feedback
What do you get when you cross the anonymity of 360 Feedback with the social media savvy set?
Build a Better Performance Review
Integrating feedback from multiple raters (i.e., peers, direct reports, customers) in the performance appraisal process is becoming an increasingly popular practice. Direct reports (e.g., upward feedback) and peers provide provide valuable and unique viewpoints and perspectives on performance that may not otherwise be observed by managers. Feedback from multiple raters offers managers the opportunity to build a complete picture of performance.
Time to Step Up Your Leadership Game
Managers sometimes assume that top performers do not need as much feedback, coaching and attention as average performers. We find that managers are often on autopilot in how they manage their best performers and then are shocked to find out that their most valuable talent was dissatisfied when they leave. Performance management is even more critical for high performers because they typically contribute more than their peers, and are looking for recognition of their significant contributions and feedback on how they can advance their careers.
Although all of the performance review naysayers might have you believe that the general populace despises the practice of assessing performance, my team and I are on the front line of working with people everyday who beg to differ. It is always my pleasure to speak with employees and managers after they have received performance feedback – some of it glowing, much of it developmental and growth-oriented. During performance review and regular coaching discussions, managers consider the performance feedback from various sources and perspectives and wield it into a tool, a plan really, for moving forward. More often than not these conversations become an intensely introspective exercise that provides the spark for change. Engaging in such breakthrough dialogue is only made possible by the managers and other feedback providers who sacrificed a bit of time from their lengthy to-do list to gift this individual with direct and honest feedback on their performance. In my experience, it is something that most people take seriously, and in fact are extremely grateful to have received.
Don’t be surprised if you see the #MidYearReview hashtag trending on your Twitter screen. Mid-year performance reviews - traditionally overshadowed by their Year-End counterpart - are having their moment! (image courtesy of Twitter)
The cyber revolt against Marissa Mayer’s telecommuting ban has been fast and furious. “Aren’t flexible working relationships, flip flops and free lunch the mainstay perks of tech companies?!” netizens shouted. While Yahoo bucking the work from home trend has largely been voted a fail across the web – even Richard Branson weighed in on his blog – this action brings to the forefront some absolutely huge employee performance management issues that must be addressed by leaders managing a virtual workforce.
Management Gone Too Far?
Although many branded the move as retro (not in a good way), Mayer likely believed that this decision was essential for moving Yahoo’s culture forward and is being employed as only one
of many reinvention strategies. While we are certainly not privy to all of the internal justifications, a Yahoo source informed All Things D (the original recipient of the leaked HR memo) that in certain cases the arrangements were allowing for lackluster performance and a focus on side projects at the expense of real work. Further, the official HR note blames working from home for sub par “speed and quality”, while insisting that physical presence in the office will enhance “communication and collaboration”, and “decisions and insights”.
These are certainly very realistic performance expectations for any organization. The problem is that this is a bandage solution and is unlikely to address the root of what is likely a leadership issue. I have some questions:
- Has Yahoo HR conducted research (as the Google People Analytics team does with PiLab) showing that telecommuting is a driver of the factors mentioned in the HR communication?
- Is there evidence that office staff are more productive than telecommuters?
- Have they drilled down into the data for specific business units, departments or managers where the issues are occurring to reinforce key leadership and managerial competencies that drive high performance and engagement?
- Have senior managers been held accountable for their virtual team’s execution of strategic objectives linked to the Yahoo reinvention?
My colleagues and I have worked with many management teams with challenging cultural issues, and in the midst of large scale organizational change efforts. Establishing and communicating specific standards of performance and holding managers and teams accountable can effectively change the direction of an organization -- sometimes overnight. It is our recommendation that Yahoo employees be evaluated on a comprehensive set of competency-based behavioral standards including, for example,
- displaying a sense of urgency in accomplishing tasks;
- maintaining regular and open lines of communication;
- making effective team-based decisions; and
- providing insights that challenge the status quo and push the organization forward.
As highlighted in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post by Keith Ferrazzi, we must avoid managing by observation – the early in, last to leave employee may not necessarily be the most productive or even a high performer . Instead, HR needs to provide senior leadership with tools for measuring both the “what” and “how” of performance. When these metrics are utilized the “where” factor is not important – after all, one virtual employee may sacrifice quality to avoid missing yoga, while another is scheduling conference calls with Australia at 10 p.m. to close deals. The most effective way to measure performance is always about both goal accomplishment and the behavioral competencies one utilizes in their work. Both are readily measured when done correctly, even during “virtual observation”.
Performance Feedback Fatigue?
If all of those ratings, comment reviews, and one-on-one meetings have left you with a bad case of feedback fatigue, you needn’t worry – it is about time to put it all to rest. Before you call it a wrap though, use this time to conduct a post-mortem audit that will help identify what worked best – and what must be changed going forward.
"Anonymous" seems to be a dirty word these days.
The rise of social networking and media, along with fast and edgy companies who promote their open, share everything with everyone cultures means Social Performance Management is the new “hot”. But does this leave good - dare we say old-fashioned - 360 degree feedback as the “not”?