Performance reviews were created in the 1940’s as a way of measuring the bonuses given based on performance. It’s the same era as the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the creation of the ballpoint pen and the microwave. They were transactional and target focused. Unfortunately, many of them have not evolved as much as our people and workplaces have.
For many, going to these reviews are as exciting as a trip to the dentist.
According to Gallup, only 14% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews inspire them to improve. They say that ‘If performance reviews were a drug, they would not meet FDA approval for efficacy’. That made me chuckle and then feel a little flat.
Most reviews are more compliance focused than human focused.
We focus on the process of filling in the boxes, giving scores we might not even feel are true (to avoid conflict and people quietly-quitting) and preparing our content so that people will agree with us. We are too focused on the form completion and uploading it than supporting the person’s growth and evolution. Not all are compliance driven. But we need more human focused ones.
This is not ok anymore. Haven’t we learned in the past few years that we are working with people, with feelings, who want to feel and be noticed that they matter? What we need now, in working relationships, is what my good friend, author and leadership expert Tracey Ezard calls ‘Professional Intimacy’. It’s about developing an emotional connection between two professionals. Sharing stories, giving support through challenging times and being clear when important conversations need to be had.
This can be done when we are delivering great feedback and the stuff that is hard to hear and say. Connection is created through both the good and the gap conversations.
I think it’s time to rise up to a better, more human way of working. The reviews we have are part of this. If the purpose of these performance reviews is to review performance. Then let’s do that in a way that inspires both the leader and their team member to be more motivated when they walk out of the door, than when they walked in. Otherwise we are still stuck in the 1940’s.
If this resonates with you and you want to get better at feedback then come along to my event Embedding a feedback culture in 2023 AND download the free trial to my online feedback program. You’d be crazy not to do both. Event details here and online feedback program trial here.