There’s a debate current about Performance Reviews (PRs) involving some strong advocacy against them. Stories are going around that notables such as MicroSoft, Accenture and Seek are ‘doing away’ with PRs but they’re not true.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I recognize that much is dysfunctional about the way many PRs are conducted, including:

  • They are part of the remuneration cycle, thus a threat.
  • Being a once-a-year or twice-a-year event, they are ‘major events’ and therefore threatening.
  • They often involve the ‘sandwich’ – the crap is between two nice bits of feedback; this creates lack of trust.
  • They are one-way and authoritarian; unequal, threatening.
  • If there are behavioural etc. issues that should be addressed, why weren’t these raised when they happened? ‘I’ve been allowed to do x for a year or so and now it’s not OK?’

However well handled, PRs can be very valuable to both the company and the staffer.Base a PR on some simple principles:

  • Meet regularly (monthly to start) to discuss non-operational matters – attitude, behaviour, skills, development, trust, values.
  • Set the tone for two-way discussions base on how each party – yes, the boss and the staffer – supports and meets the needs of the other.
  • Build a ‘positive emotional bank account’ with each staffer. (1)
  • Engage on foundations of Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. (2)
  • Get the person to do the PR hard work as self-assessment, not judgement from on high.
  • Raise behavioural issues when they become a problem.

I can send you a One-on-One sheet to get you started. email me with the request on Ian.Mathieson@mathiesonmgt.com.au.

  1. Thanks to Steven Covey.
  2. Thanks to S+B article Managing With the Brain in Mind by David Rock.