Did you know that only 14% of performance reviews leave an employee feeling motivated to perform better? It is impossible to discuss employee experience without having a focus on employee performance. It is so often the performance assessment process that leaves employees disengaged. Research shows that if an employee is fairly paid, is treated well and feels valued they will happily stay with an organization most of the time. In fact, if an employee feels their strengths are valued, there is studies that show there is a less than 1% chance of that employee becoming disengaged. Employees usually become disengaged because they feel their contribution has not been appreciated and that there has been no recognition of their achievements. This can be rectified with proper performance assessment.

What were the employee’s goals?

Ironically, if the organisation has done their job right, the year-end performance review should be easy. It all starts with effective goal setting at the start of the year, or the start of their tenure with the company if they are a new hire. The employee should have been set specific and clear goals that they are supposed to deliver in addition to their business as usual tasks. At the end of the year, the employee will have either failed to deliver these, delivered them, or gone above and beyond and delivered some additional items. That is pretty much the guide for your low, middle, and high performers. Unless the goals have been unrealistically set, or something like Covid-19 happened which led to these goals not being met, most employees have the self-awareness to understand if they have, or have not, delivered and provide an accurate self-assessment of their performance.  

Discuss performance quarterly at a minimum

Next, it is important to discuss performance with employees at least once a quarter, ideally once a month. It should come as no surprise that employees that receive regular feedback perform better than those that do not. Despite this, roughly half of all employees do not have a performance conversation with their manager or HR at least once a quarter. By having regular check ins with employees, you can better assess their performance and coach them to improve performance. It also allows for a much fairer assessment at the end of the year. Maybe one project was not delivered, but that is because IT are in the process of changing the IT system, which has caused a 9-month delay. By having a regular check in, you will have known in advance that was the case, adjusted expectations accordingly and assess fairly, as opposed to only finding out at year end that the project was not delivered. Then telling the employee they did not meet their goals when it would have been impossible for them to do so.

Only focus on the performance of the individual

When assessing performance, you are supposed to be assessing the performance of a specific employee against their agreed upon goals. You do not mark down one employee who achieved their goals, because another employee outperformed their goals. This creates resentment within the team and unhealthy competition. If you asked an employee to do something and they did it, they are going to feel unappreciated if this is not recognized. You should not compare one employee to another.

It is also important to ignore the personality traits of the person you are assessing. It would be wonderful if everyone could connect equally as well with all different personality types, but we are human and that just is not the case. You may have someone in your team that you really like, you have drinks after work, your kids go to the same school. That is irrelevant at the end of the year. If they have not achieved their goals, they have not met expectations. Likewise, you may just dislike someone in the team. Maybe they support a different sports team or political party. Again, it should not matter. You only focus on the quality of their work. Did they deliver what was agreed? If the answer is yes, they achieved their goals.

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