Annual employee performance reviews are most effective when you approach them in the spirit of employee gratitude.
You’re not only meeting to discuss how employees are doing, but why what they’re doing is meaningful to the company — and thank them for it.
Gratitude connects the dots and reinforces great work.
Tying together the quality and impact of an employee’s performance during the annual review helps the employee understand better what they’re doing right and what they can do to improve. Your gratitude leads the way!
Some companies are choosing to ditch the annual performance review, reasoning that it’s “time consuming, excessively subjective, demotivating and ultimately unhelpful” and “epitomizes the absurdities of corporate life,” according to McKinsey Quarterly.
But the annual review still has value if you do it right. Read on to find out how, and for tips on incorporating employee gratitude each step along the way.
Revive the Traditional Review Process with Employee Gratitude
The traditional employee performance review — with staff rankings, numbers-driven ratings and mountains of paperwork — is dying, according to a 2015 SHRM article.
Yet HR leaders suggest that the annual review still worth doing if it’s reimagined as a one-on-one sit-down chat between employee and manager.
“A conversation is a lot less work than an essay. If you’re no longer providing ratings in, say, 30 areas, with multiple paragraphs explaining strengths and weaknesses and summarizing someone’s objectives for an entire year, then it’s about having a meaningful conversation in which you recognize accomplishment and strengths and discuss developmental areas,” Jim Barnett, CEO and co-founder of Glint, told SHRM.
One of the biggest criticisms of the annual performance review is that it happens too infrequently. Today’s fast-paced work environment demands employee gratitude and feedback right away, not eight months from now. When employees get a quick turnaround on recognition, they’re more likely to repeat good behaviors.
Still, it’s important to take a long-range or bird’s-eye view of employee performance. When implemented as part of a comprehensive recognition program, the annual review provides an opportunity to take stock of the year.
Replace the checkboxes and numeric scales of the traditional annual review with specific, individual feedback — and always lead with employee gratitude.
Stephen Balzac, president of 7 Steps Ahead, told SHRM that “performance is more complex” than number-crunching.
“There is an inherent assumption that forced rankings are clinical and objective. Just because we assign something a number doesn’t make it either clinical or objective. It’s just a number, and numbers feel good, logical and scientific. We lose a lot of information when we turn things into numbers. Shades of meaning and nuance are erased, which blinds us to how performance may be occurring and what people are actually doing,” Balzac says.
Instead, replace the checkboxes and numeric scales of the traditional annual review with specific, individualized feedback — and always lead with employee gratitude.
4 Tips for Improving Performance Reviews with Gratitude
Give your reviews a fresh boost with gratitude! Here are four ideas for leading reviews with gratitude.
1. Talk about strengths more than weaknesses. The goal is always to help the employee improve, not take them down a notch.
2. When it comes to negative feedback, focus on your impressions and feelings. “Never make judgments about what’s going on in the employee’s head,” recommends SHRM’s Dana Wilkie. For instance: “You clearly don’t care about this project” will only put the employee on the defensive and close them off to suggestions for improvement.
3. Don’t wait for the “perfect” performance, writes BizWoman columnist Tammy Tierney in her article, “Thank You: The Most Important Words You’ll Say Today.” Acknowledging effort along the way encourages employees to keep it up. For example: I appreciate the time you’re putting in to mastering Salesforce. You’ll be a whiz in no time!
4. Include gratitude for intangible positive behavior. Does your employee have a great attitude that alleviates or helps mediate team conflicts? Tell them! Says Balzac: “It’s hard to rate behaviors like helping a team member or boosting morale,” he says. That doesn’t mean those behaviors don’t contribute to a productive workplace. “Reviews need to be more holistic and find ways to take into account non-obvious team-building behaviors. The person who helps keep everyone else’s mood up when things are tough is appreciated, but not really noticed — until they’re gone.”
Celebrate Employee Gratitude Every Day!
For practical tips on sharing and promoting gratitude every day in your workplace, download our free eBook “Transform Your Workplace With Gratitude.” You’ll find advice here on recruiting and retaining a great workforce, engaging employees and building a sustainable culture of appreciation.
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