Commenting on “Performance Review Tips”

Just read an article from Entrepreneur via @TDMag on Twitter and tried to post a reply, but my iPhone seemed to disagree. Seemed easier to write here and post the link instead…

Read the article first by following this link

Now, my reply…

The phrase “giving performance reviews” worries me and although it may sound like a throwaway phrase, it may also hold the key to better success in retaining employees and their motivation.

Giving performance reviews” implies for me some kind of hierarchical power structure or top-down culture where “the boss lets me know how I’m doing, what I did well and where I should change”.

I agree of course that feedback is essential for correcting or maintaining performance issues and as the original article pointed out, dialogue is a major key to doing that well.

But (of course, there is a but!):

I regularly hear from corporate employees that these “discussions” often focus entirely on being given feedback on performance (and correcting it) and not enough on career, motivation etc..

They add also that despite being “allowed to speak”, any attempt to create real alignment between personal objectives, career aspirations, culture… and those of the company are often merely a case of “good form” (“he asks, but nothing ever comes of it”).

When I push my training participants for ideas on how to improve this approach, they regularly refer to how “they” don’t care about “us” and how all “they” are really concerned about is how to distribute amongst “us” the pot of available bonus money this year.

If these employees are lucky, they also get a moment (once a year) to discuss career aspirations. I hear that this is like “let’s write down what you’d really like to be doing…” But that’s it.

In conclusion, sitting in my car in Gent, waiting to go to work:

Let’s focus first on fixing the hierarchical “us and them” approach to collaboration. The real reason “21 million U.S. workers planned to change jobs this year” (as the article states) is because they are not getting what they need to find happiness, flow and motivation at work. If yearly performance reviews could be replaced by regular true collaborative working-togetherness, aligning culture, process, performance and motivations we probably wouldn’t need to teach people tips for “giving performance reviews”.

Until them, I’ll go back to my third day of teaching just that… 😉

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About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on October 12, 2012, in Leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Dear Dan,

    indeed I think that the problem is one of leadership styles. Most people that occupy a position requiring leadership (not necessarily managerial positions) do not have a clue about what motivates their collaborators. It’s true that we are all motivated by different things and it may seem that getting to now what motivates each member of a team is time-consuming. But in the end all it takes is asking open questions and listening (!), as you said in another blog entry. That can make a big difference in terms of employee retention, so I would say it’s a good investment.

    Elena

  2. Indeed Elena, motivation does seem to be the first key ingredient.
    Thanks for commenting Elena!
    D

  1. Pingback: A few of my favourite posts for today’s new visitors « dansteer

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