Aaaaargh! It’s Performance Review Time!

ITA Group
ITA Group

Leverage your recognition program to make the conversation meaningful and effective.

For most organizations, annual performance reviews are often dreaded equally by managers and employees. There may be a number of reasons for the level of disdain in your organization, but typically it’s a lack of time and relevant, recent information. 

Typically the blame for unproductive or inaccurate performance review conversations falls on managers. Is that blame entirely fair? Of course not. 

In a manager’s defense, they may have thirty or more team members to prepare for. Not to mention those direct reports might be scattered across the country or globe. Providing feedback is also a managerial skill that takes practice and training. More often than not, employees’ strengths are over-exaggerated and areas for improvement are glossed over. And employees’ contributions are often skewed toward what happened in the past couple of months instead of looking at the entire year as a single body of work. Finally, the contributions of some employees may be difficult to quantify.

So as HR Professionals, How Do You Fix It?

One tool we don’t see leveraged enough in organizations is the recognition program. Studies indicate that nearly 9 out of 10 organizations have some type of employee recognition program in place, yet we don’t see these programs, or more importantly the data from these programs, leveraged to the degree it should be. 

If your organization has a recognition program that is truly aligned with your company’s mission and values, you might be missing an opportunity to add additional relevant data to the annual performance conversation. 

Leveraging data from a recognition program benefits both managers and employees. For example, many organizations recognize employees based on the company’s core values or brand behaviors. Employees can come to their annual review with hard evidence of when core values and brand behaviors were demonstrated. They can also show their understanding of these core values by providing evidence of recognizing others for exhibiting them. 

Despite our best efforts, it can be difficult to remain objective in a review. We are emotional beings, and we tend to put more weight on recent negative impressions than distant positives. Data from your recognition program provides a great performance history.

A user-friendly recognition program—aligned with your corporate objectives and accessible to both managers and employees—adds an important tool to a company’s toolbox. It can turn what can be an awkward and hollow annual review into something productive and thought provoking for everyone involved.