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A New Approach to Performance Reviews

Your traditional quarterly performance reviews may be pushing your employees out the door.

They’re supposed to make it easy for you to grow leaders, right? Wrong. Only 14 percent of employees feel motivated to grow or improve their skills after performance reviews. That doesn’t mean all measurement, communication or feedback is bad. You just need to shift your definition of a performance review.

Think like a coach.

A coach’s job is to motivate players. It’s to measure performance, find key areas for improvement and help the players improve and grow their skills, both as individuals and as a team. The coach is constantly running performance reviews.

Your job as a manager, and as a leader, is the same. And it might be one of your most vital tasks now.

When you think of a performance review, you typically think of the traditional review in which an employee sits on one side of a desk, while a manager sits on the other side doling out criticism. It’s unfortunately common and results in employees feeling anxious, stressed, angry and afraid. This isn’t a conducive environment for motivated and engaged employees.

These types of reviews are particularly detrimental to the millennial workers who are slowly beginning to take over the entry-level workforce positions. With their supposed laissez-faire attitude, addiction to screen-time and much shorter attention spans, it is more imperative than ever that you find a way to connect with each of them. To help reduce the risk of them moving on to another company, you have to show them that they can develop their skills and their careers with you.

The simplest plan is to follow in the footsteps of the coaches who’ve already perfected skill development.

Make it personal

Motivation. Growth. Improvement. Just like players need individual attention, guidance and planning, so do your employees. They each have different strengths and different needs, so each one needs to have a different game plan for success.

You should schedule time to get to know your employee — their goals, plans for the future and definition of success — so your performance reviews are beneficial for you both. You get to truly track their progress while providing the feedback that they need to grow their own skills. Millennials, in particular, respond exponentially to the type of feedback that shows true, intentional investment in their growth and their time.

Set actionable goals

Don’t make your employees try to hit a moving target. When you set goals, make sure there is also a roadmap for how to get there. You can’t track progress towards a goal if the metric you’re trying to hit doesn’t exist. It won’t matter how much growth or progress your employee has made. They still won’t be able to meet your expectations.

That doesn’t mean your roadmap can’t change. You might find a shortcut, or realize that what was supposed to be a simple task has turned into a full blown project. You have to take these roadblocks into consideration during your evaluations, too. It’s the height of discouragement for an employee when they’re being penalized or criticized for not meeting a goal they had no control over.

Don’t expect more than they’re able

Are your employees introverts or extroverts? Do you manage parents? What about students? Every employee you are responsible for is going to have some sort of limitation on what they’re capable of doing in their job. The best leaders understand those limitations and challenge their employees to hone skills within them.

When you come alongside and acknowledge the limitations one of your team members may have, they’re more willing to give their all in what they can do. You’ll see a bump in productivity, performance and passion for your company. There will be times when one of your employees sets a limitation for them self that you know they can overcome. Challenge them, guide them and help them push through their concerns, so you get a more engaged employee, and they come out with a new set of skills.

What makes a great leader? It’s a question to which everyone has a different answer. A leader isn’t born. A leader is grown. When you foster an attitude of innovation, trust and respect, your employees won’t walk into your performance reviews already feeling defeated. They’ll walk in knowing that you’re there to help them grow into the leader they want to become. You’ve become an invaluable source of knowledge and guidance that they won’t want to leave, even if a better offer comes along.

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