Kris Dunn Kris Dunn, Performance

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time for performance reviews, which also means it’s time for the annual onslaught of calls to eliminate the performance review.  Here’s a recent one from the Wall Street Journal – enjoy!

If you read that article, it’s a predictable angle.  End the performance review.  You hate them.  They don’t work.  End it now.

Here’s another idea.  Rather than eliminating the performance review, why don’t you just make it real and actually talk only about things that are important?

There are three ways to make your performance reviews real:

  1. Establish goals by answering the following question.  If you could only talk to your direct report about a max of 5 things, what would those five things be?  That’s your goals section.
  2. Replace your lame company values with potential factors.  Things like integrity are a given. You’ve got a code of conduct policy for that, skippy.  Don’t clutter any performance dimensions you’re using to give an employee performance feedback with soft things like integrity, honesty, doing the right thing, etc.  All givens.  Instead, you need to tell them how the company really hires/promotes/fires – what are the performance dimensions that really matter?
  3. Be hard as hell when explaining what the difference between meeting and exceeding the expectation is with any goal or dimension.  CODE:  You’re doing fine.  Average if you will.  Here’s what you really need to do if you want to kick #@#.

That’s all you have to do to make a performance review meaningful.  Wait – you also have to deliver the review with brutal honesty and dialog with your direct report.  So, that’s two big things most managers need to change.

Bonus related to the title of this post:  Want to get some blood flowing in the review process?  Replace integrity/honesty/does the right thing with this dimension and description:

Drive (drv):  The type of person we hire is generally the passionate type in what they do for a living and likes to compete in everything they do.  There’s a certain level of drive that these people bring to the table, and as a result of that drive, the average <insert your company’s name here> hire tends to compete daily – at work and outside of work. (discretionary effort)

Insert that dimension and then give a Plodder honest feedback, about why they’re a “meets” related to that definition – or why they don’t even meet the minimum – then watch the spirit of the review change.

Of course, I know that everyone has a different definition of what drive is and you can nickel and dime my definition to death.  That’s not the point.  The point is you have your own definition and get to what’s real in your review process related to what really drives results at your company.

Or you can stick with Integrity.  “Jim, I gave you a “meets” for integrity.  Why a meets and not an exceeds?  Great question, I guess I need to see you whistleblow a person or two before I could give you an exceeds“.

Good luck with your evals.  I hope the conflict avoidance goes well this year.