A Note from Ujima Donalson,
Performance reviews sneak up on many of us each year, and often we end up more focused on meeting deadlines than making the most of the process. As a consequence, we miss out on opportunities to truly engage with our employees. The good news is that, for those of us who complete summertime reviews, it's not too late to plant the seeds for a fruitful process.
In my view, the performance review session I have with each employee should be a dialogue about their work, ideas, needs, and aspirations. When such rich exchanges happen, I love the surprises that come with it—learning something new about an employee’s hidden strengths, gaining insight into what excites and motivates another, or, together, generating a groundbreaking solution to a stubborn problem.
In order for performance reviews to be productive in this way, we must stay ahead of the process. That means making sure employees have access to any necessary forms and information well in advance and providing them with ample time for self-reflection and goal-setting. In addition, we must make time in our own schedules to assess our employees and review their self-evaluations and goals.
Another key to engaging our employees in this process is clearly communicating expectations. How much time and effort do we expect them to expend on their self-evaluations? What kinds of goals do we want to see from them—lofty, pie-in-the-sky aspirations or practical, attainable objectives? How would we like for them to prepare for the review session—and what can they expect from us during that session? By communicating our expectations (and following through on our part of the process), we can turn what may seem like a nebulous or unnecessary task into a concrete and meaningful undertaking.
As busy as we all are, it can be difficult to devote the time and resources that performance reviews truly require. But the rewards can be tenfold. I hope the articles in this issue of the Leading Edge will help inspire you to start planning for this process now, and I wish you and your employees much success as you review your accomplishments and anticipate new levels of individual and organizational achievement.