After my post on communicating with your team through reviews, I was asked by a reader about what to do if dropping annual performance reviews isn’t an option for their organization. Let’s talk about how to make the most of this circumstance.
Don’t Settle for Just Annual Reviews
The worst things you can do is to resign to reviews being mandatory and allow them to be the only time you communicate about performance throughout the year. It’s still hugely valuable to have regular 1-on-1s. This way when the annual performance review rolls around each year both you and your employee already know what the conversation is going to look like; the HR process just becomes a formality.
Deep Dive on a Topic
Pick an area of career development and spend more time discussing that topic than you may be able to in 1-on-1s. The subject should be specific to the individual and could range from improving communication skills to taking on leadership opportunities to focusing growth in a particular area of software development. By spending time planning out a path for growth, the individual will sense your investment in their success. A side effect of your investment is loyalty and loyalty helps to reduce turnover. Everyone wins.
Ask Questions and Listen Intently
“Just listen” is nearly always the rule but it’s worth repeating. Many times as managers or team leaders it can feel that we are supposed to drive the conversation and that we should have a list of talking points to cover, but this is all wrong. Without asking questions and leaving lots of room for our team to share their thoughts, struggles, and desires we fall flat on one of our most significant roles as leaders.
- Actively listen with intentions to learn
- Formulate a plan
- Guide, empower, and encourage towards the desired outcome
So, while performance reviews are mostly useless by themselves, when adapted to fit your communication plan they can be used for good. Go forth and do good!