Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Proposed Performance Review

So it's just about that time ... I'd say most companies should have 'reviews' in June and in December-ish. How can you hate HR if there is no performance reviews? For real here, I know we don't like them and it's more and more trendy to prove how they don't offer any value. But I know you don't mean it (read sarcastically). And, I recently posted some reasons why we should have them so I thought it would be responsible to follow up with a thought about actually pulling it off.

When I was growing up, I'd had what I think are some strong and fairly unique thoughts for a young guy about how I'd like to raise my kids. I didn't particularly value being dragged to church (ok ... 'disliked'), but did think there was some value in the regular time set aside to be ... spiritual and part of something bigger. I schemed to take my kids to church every couple weeks, but also to meditation sessions, to serve at the soup kitchen, Synagogue, Lutheran mass, piano recitals, anything I could think of - just a regular time with yourself, family, a larger community, and a good message.

Why can't we do something like this with reviews as well? Maybe they won't be as dreaded and we can actually get something from them? Why don't we change the format every other year (or twice a year or whatever)?

I mentioned Rypple in a previous post, an online way to get anonymous feedback from all those around you. How about a self-evaluation, 360 degree feedback, Manager report, a 5 point rating based on company goals, manager and employer essay, etc....

Certainly, explaining each of these processes to employees is a big downside, and probably impracticable at a large company. But, certainly with a small and agile group, I think this could be made to be really fun. And isn't the same old boring process, that isn't able to capture all the aspects of unique individuals and their contributions, one reason for the criticism?

For a small start-up that hasn't done reviews before, or for a group that has a particular resistance to the forms and formality of traditional systems, why not start with a simple Intro to reviews:

STEP ONE: By X date, write your own "highlights" and present it to your Lead.

This review should be no longer than one page and should include the following:

  • Some bullets of how you have been spending your time
  • Accomplishment/s you are proud of
  • Challenges
  • What you want to do short term / long term
  • What you have enjoyed and not enjoyed about your position or the company
  • Other (pay, projects, leadership, work environment, whatevers...)

STEP TWO: Your Lead will look at your review, will agree and/or disagree with you and add some notes.

STEP THREE: Your Lead will share the review with the All Seeing Sage (this A.S.S. might be the CEO, Site Lead, HR, or other appropriate person) for input, and then will schedule a follow up 1:1 sit down meeting.

* Among other things, you will look at your highlights, your Lead's notes - You might discuss how you can best perform on the job, how you will be going about it, and what help you need from your Lead?

STEP FOUR: Trends across departments and key points shared with CEO and Leads where appropriate. (i.e. everyone hates working with Margo).

See, that wasn't so hard.

A goal should be to have these reviews and meetings twice a year. Move to having them quarterly. Work at making them more frequent and less weird. Make them normal and productive communication vehicles - an edge you have over your competitor. Find ways to use them as a tool to actually improve performance.

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