New Ways to Look at Employee Reviews

office meeting offee public domainMost – if not all – employee review processes seem to work as well as the rating system in Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

At Intel, they found that almost everyone was being rated as “successful” each year, which was merely one step above “needs improvement” on the company’s internal scale of competence.

This exposes a cruel love-hate relationship with the “yearly review.” When evaluations get almost “standardized” like this, they become a rote exercise that delivers little to no incentive for employee growth. But at the same time, in most companies employees know that their raise is tied to their review, so they circle their anniversary day on their calendars each year looking forward to a bump in their “take home.”

An institution with no fans

A big problem is caused by the fact that we typically give yearly evaluations. Honestly, can you really reflect an entire year of work in a single evaluation? Do you keep notes throughout the year? What sticks best in your memory, the good or the bad? The system is really as unfair to supervisors as it is to those being reviewed.

One possible improvement is to separate the discussion of competence and professional growth from the pay raise discussion and touch bases with employees twice a year. This allows you to put the focus where it should be at each session. Of course, it also puts an extra meeting on your calendar for every employee who answers to you.

The separate compensation-based meeting would be more straightforward and shouldn’t take much time. However, you might see some of your employees making a more earnest attempt to grow professionally when they realize their “pay talk” is just six months away.

Peer reviews are another variation some companies are trying. Perhaps in today’s vernacular we should call these “crowd-sourced” performance reviews. They aren’t new; they’ve been around for decades in some companies. Of course you need to be certain that those providing input on an employee’s review and raise are familiar with his or her work.

Keeping the status quo

Despite the problems inherent in reviews, I suspect most of you will stick to traditional formats. I urge you to approach the process with the future of your business and the future of each employee in mind. Encourage both parties of the review to consider this question before the meeting:

“What can the company and employee each do to improve the business and further the career of the employee in the coming months?”

You can answer this question by touching on various categories, such as:

  • Training,
  • Continuing education,
  • Advancement,
  • Process improvements, and others.

Some employees in your business will be eager to do things to build your business and advance their careers. Some others will be pretty happy just doing what they’ve always done. Your goal should be to recognize those who have aspirations for advancement and help them to the best of your ability.

At the same time, some people who are happy with theirs jobs and not looking for significant advancement can be extremely dedicated to your company and very dependable employees. You don’t want to upset that balance either. Recognize their value and be sure they feel your gratitude.

Sponsored by AT&T