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performance reviews

Talent and HR News Weekly Update: The Performance Review


Talent and HR News Weekly Update: The Performance Review

The performance review. Most people dread them. Some people look forward to them. The intent of performance reviews is worthwhile. It's an opportunity to provide feedback to employees and discuss areas of growth. Sometimes though, employees and managers just go through the motions making performance reviews a pain in the neck rather than a meaningful discussion. We're half-way through the year, which is a time when employees and managers usually "check-in" with each other, so for this week's Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup, we're sharing the latest thinking around performance reviews. 

1) Employee Performance Review: Productive or Destructive? from Findmyshift

"Why do employees overwhelmingly dread their annual performance review with the boss? Quite often, this discussion is tied to the decision of whether an employee will receive a pay raise. What's more, many of the points a manager makes about an employee can feel personal, even subjective, and not reflective of his or her true performance over a year's time. It's up to managers to make the dialogue in the annual performance review as employee-friendly as possible, even though the odds are already stacked against both manager and employee. A different kind of process altogether can benefit employees and empower managers to feel more successful in appraising employee performance."



Cultivating a Culture of Feedback

  It’s that time of year where you reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous year, and you begin to think about what’s ahead of you in this next year. This is the perfect time for feedback, formally or informally.


Or is it? Is there a reason we look at a new year as a clean slate? I do it too. I indulge from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day and then decide January 1 will be the day I start fresh.

There are plenty of articles out there advising on the delivery of feedback and its art form. These are extremely helpful because giving feedback, especially constructive, is a difficult conversation. What I’m imparting here is making feedback a mindset. If you want to cultivate a culture of feedback to engage employees and enhance productivity, there are 3 overarching elements to incorporating it, and it doesn’t mean just at performance review time.


Feedback should not be reserved for the performance review. Managers should be offering it, and employees should be seeking it…often. High performing teams conduct a feedback routine called a Hot Wash after every major event to evaluate performance. Derived from the U.S. Army, "the term Hot Wash comes from the practice used by some soldiers of dousing their weapons in extremely hot water as a means of removing grit and residue after firing…One infantry soldier described it as ‘the quick and dirty cleaning that can save a lot of time later.’” (Source: US Department of Defense Education Activity).

Instead of waiting until the end of year, feedback should be provided frequently as a way to constantly adjust and save time in the long run. Startups use this concept with their products – obtaining constant feedback and tweaking as the market responds. Why not use this with your people?


Over the holidays, a friend shared that he was frustrated with his company’s review process. Throughout the year, he received very positive feedback and then at the end of the year - the time where it counts the most for bonus distribution – he received some negative feedback that impacted his bonus. He was actively seeking it out, and willing to work on his shortcomings, but he had no awareness. His managers were not doing him any favors by sugarcoating their feedback throughout the year.


Oftentimes feedback can be misconstrued. It’s not fun to be told you aren’t doing something well. You feel judged, scolded, and wrong. But if someone knew where the feedback was coming from, it may change how she receives it. I worked at a company where feedback was ingrained in the culture. During my interview, an employee explained that “feedback is love.” How refreshing! I knew that when someone offered me feedback, it was because they cared about me and wanted me to improve. And when I was on the delivery end of constructive feedback, the person receiving it would understand that I was genuinely looking out for her. You wouldn’t hesitate to tell your friend that she has ketchup on her chin so that she doesn’t embarrass herself, so why wouldn’t you tell a colleague that she takes on too much to please everyone. It’s not passing judgment, it’s making someone aware of areas that can vastly improve her life. Working in a company that had this openness was freeing. I never felt judged or wrong. I felt cared for and free to take risks.

Regardless of the type of culture you have, formal or informal, feedback is something that everyone deserves, and it should be frequent, honest, and understood.


Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.



You're Not As Good of A Manager As You Think

Ask any leader if they think they’re good at managing people. Most will respond “yes” or “I try to be” or “I think so.” No one ever flat-out says no. It could be we’re too afraid to admit what we don’t know. More likely it’s that we really never learned. Unlike the skills it takes to ship code, create a sales plan, or do a financial valuation, people management isn’t a specific, teachable skill. You can shadow a young developer and correct code errors in real-time. There’s often a clear right and wrong. Managing people – not so much.

Sure, if you’ve been working for a few years and managing people for a few more, you’ve learned some tricks along the way. But how do you know they’re the right ones? And how do you know you’re making an impact?

1. Start Talking to Your Employees

We’re so focused on launches, planning, and meeting deadlines, it’s sometimes easy to forget we’re working with human beings. No one takes a job at a startup or high-growth company for the hell of it. We all have some sort of personal growth goals. Make a conscious effort to ask your employees about theirs. Even if you don’t have a formal performance process, you’re still responsible for helping them grow and develop no matter how small or busy you are. Make an effort to do it.

2. Ask Your Team for Feedback

If you ask your team casually “how are things?” or “how am I doing?” you’ll get canned responses. Instead, ask them regularly what you can do better as a leader and encourage them as a team to work together to give you some specifics. Sure, you’re swamped, and small, growing companies don’t have time for coddling. But if your behaviors are getting in the way of getting work done, and you’re not making a conscious effort to develop your team, what happens when the company grows? You need talent you’ve developed whom you can trust to pass it on. You don’t grow a company through an “I’m in charge so I can behave how I want” mentality.

3. Set Performance Goals That Aren't Skills-Based

As you think about what you want to accomplish as a leader in the coming year, are all your goals performance-based? more of the post over on Tech Cocktail.


This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A workforce consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.




Thursday Lunch Break: Peggy Olson

So, what did you think of the Mad Men finale? Whether you loved or hated it, watching characters evolve on the show (or on any well-written show) is like watching your own kids grow up (or so I am assuming). But when I watched "Peggy Olson Grows Up," I had another thought too. What if we could watch our own evolution at work? Imagine all of your best and worst moments (including hair and clothing ladies) in the workplace on a highlights reel. We don't spend enough time looking backward. Instead, we're all about what's next.  We're already talking about the last season of Mad Men before this one has even had a chance to cool down.

Take your lunch break and do a little reflection. See how far Peggy's come, and maybe pull out a few performance reviews of your own. Click below for the piece over on The Daily Beast.

Peggy Olson Grows Up