Corporate Health – Employee Performance Reviews

(This is the ninth in a monthly series about Corporate Health, where we examine different methods and ideas for improving efficiency, your company culture, and employee morale.)

Employee performance reviews. Depending on the employee and even the supervisor involved, the term can be met with enthusiasm, dread, or flat-out disdain. Even a good employee who knows their worth and contribution to their company can have mixed emotions when it comes to a performance review which offers them little meaningful feedback. Even a supervisor who enjoys engaging with their staff can become frustrated if the process of evaluating them is inefficient or inconsistent.

So, are employee performance reviews still a good idea? Of course. Evaluations provide…

  • …an insight into the current strengths and weaknesses of an employee, to see what areas can be better developed.
  • …a forum to give and receive feedback which can’t be exchanged during the course of a busy workday.
  • …a chance to set goals and expectations.
  • …the opportunity to reward the performance of deserving employees with a pay increase or bonus.

However, how these performance evaluations are conducted can make a huge difference in whether these provisions are met.

In 2015, the Harvard Business Review featured an article from the NeuroLeadership Institute about the diminishing trend of traditional employee performance reviews; ie – ones graded on a metric rating or a forced ranking. Their studies showed a number of large companies were exploring new ways to evaluate employees due to changing business needs. These companies found that a more-frequent cycle of discussing performance and providing and receiving feedback improved engagement with employees and provided more insight than a traditional graded review. This led to higher retention of quality staff and helped expedite employees’ professional development process. In addition, the removal of a rating or ranking system inspired stronger collaboration between co-workers who no longer felt they were “competing” for the better evaluation. This trend has continued to grow as more companies have adopted the process and seen the benefits firsthand.

Performance reviews can be daunting for a supervisor as well, especially if the process is not well defined or consistent. Reviews are often thought of as an “easy” task which doesn’t require explanation or training. Yet, according to a recent article, the employees who feel they benefit from reviews often cite their supervisor’s skills in conducting a successful one. If a company still has a metrics-based evaluation system, it’s critical that a supervisor know specifically what part(s) of the employee role should be evaluated and how. Reviews should be handled in the same manner across the company, regardless of the role, to build trust within the organization that everyone is being evaluated fairly.

In a recent survey within the security industry, nearly all the respondents said they conduct employee performance reviews. Most companies do them on an annual basis; some more frequently depending on the department or the length of employment. Many companies are embracing the new trend of discussion, talking to their employees about tools they may be missing to be effective, ideas they have to move the company forward or solve a problem, training or support they could use to improve performance, and the accomplishments they achieved. One respondent noted they have a specific list of questions for their employees, including what motivates them, how they like to be rewarded, and what challenges they are facing. The employee is also asked to choose something to be accountable for, and request something of their supervisor to be accountable for, by the next review.

A large factor of performance reviews is establishing goals. Next month, as we wrap up our Corporate Health series, we’ll be discussing goals and how to establish meaningful and achievable ones for your employees.