Empowering the Performance Review
It’s that time of the year again and, no, I don’t mean decorated trees, peppermint mocha lattes and overcrowded shopping centers. If you or your clients work within an organization, it’s likely time for the annual performance review. This term often provokes fear and anxiety around being judged or forced into conversations that have been avoided at every turn. Performance reviews, however, don’t need to be energy-sapping, fear-inducing experiences. If approached the right way, they can lead you and your employees to feeling empowered and focused, even when the review itself is less than stellar.
There are two main components to a great performance review. The first is what happens prior to the review. If you are a manager and your employee is hearing things for the first time during the review, well, you didn’t do your job as a manager. At least that’s my test to myself: there should be no surprises during an annual review. Rather it should be a recap of feedback that has been delivered throughout the year. Prior to the review, consider if you’re about to deliver any new information. If the answer is “yes,” particularly if it’s “yes” to a good portion of it, it may be too late to fix this year, but it’s a good lesson to yourself to step up your feedback game in 2017.
The second component of a great performance review happens in the review itself and is an orientation toward objective progress. Performance reviews are a great time to look back over an entire year, acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments, review what didn’t go well and, most importantly, begin to craft a plan to move forward. Research has shown that a sense of progress, of moving toward a defined goal, is one of the quickest and surest ways to motivate employees in organizations. So evoke this inner drive by both acknowledging progress to date and showing how more progress can be achieved.
How do you do this in a way that leaves people feeling empowered rather than inadequate? A common formula for providing feedback is to first state the facts/data of what happened (e.g., “You communicated regularly the first month but not after that.”) and then talk about what impact that had (“The team started out in sync, but then people went off in their own directions.”). This works whether the feedback is positive or negative, as it focuses on behavior and implications rather than subjective judgment statements (e.g., “You’re too introverted.”). Judgment statements tend to ignite defensiveness when they’re negative, and lack of clarity of what exactly to fix (or what to repeat if they’re positive). Here is where the FEBI can help. The patterns provide a framework for understanding personality preferences and how they relate to particular behaviors. When this framework is shared, and has been a part of your feedback sessions all year, by the time it’s utilized during this year-end conversation it feels less threatening while bringing more clarity to the ‘why’ in front of any fact/impact statement. (“We’ve talked about your Visionary tendency to leap to new ideas, leaving others behind.”) Lastly, the patterns can provide clarity around where to go from here, that is, the ‘how’ of the improvement discussion as you shift the conversation to a forward looking plan (“Bringing in more of the Collaborator’s outreach and the Organizer’s consistency will be needed to keep the team aligned in this next big push. Let’s talk about how you would do that.)
In my own work, both as a coach and as a manager in an organization, the patterns are essential for feedback that leads to understanding when looking back, and clear direction of what to do next when moving forward.
Working with the mind-body connection of the FEBI has helped coaches and leaders-as-coaches worldwide increase their coaching impact, and we would like to make that possible for you. You can get FEBI certified online and on your own time. You’ll receive a bundle of coaching and teaching resources, as well as live coaching and guidance from a master FEBI-coach. Register for before Dec 31, and we’ll make it even easier with $200 off the certification fee. When registering, enter coupon code: holiday discount.