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You Can Do Away With Painful Annual Performance Reviews If You Follow This Simple Process

Many people feel employee performance reviews are a useless and an outdated method of managing people. My view is that the traditional method and process, as its most often conducted by managers, is not only not useful but often destructive. However, that does not mean reviews with employees regarding their performance are not useful…To me it’s an integral and critical part of successful management and hence business. The question is “what is the most efficient and effective process and what does that look like?” I’ll share with you a simple process that’s worked well for me for years in multiple businesses of different stages. The benefits are many and the costs few. Like many things it comes down to discipline, thoughtfulness and presence. Here is how it goes:

1. The employee and supervisor agree on a standing day and time for a weekly 30 minute 1:1 meeting.

2. It is the employee’s responsibility to ensure the meeting happens. If either the employee or supervisor can’t make the meeting (which should be rare as this should be a high priority organizationally from the top down), the employee is required to find a time slot in both their schedules that will work and reschedule at the earliest opportunity. It does not matter whether it occurs in person or remotely.

3. The meeting is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that he/she gets what they need (e.g. clear expectations, feedback, mentorship, guidance etc.)

4. The day before the meeting the employee completes their weekly status-goal sheet (link). He/she should email it or upload it to their private Slack channel with their supervisor or create or attach it in whatever other online app you use that makes sense.

5. Prior to the meeting the supervisor reads the status-goal sheet and places their own comments and feedback in a different color text for discussion with the employee.

6. The employee then leads the meeting addressing the major issues, asking for feedback from the supervisor; agreed changes and additional feedback are captured in the weekly status-goal sheet in a different colour text (e.g. not black or blue)

7. By following this processs

  1. The employee should feel empowered to know he/she has a forum to voice concerns, express needs, ask for help and clarification, manage up, and if comfortable voice and document any feedback for their supervisor

  2. Both the supervisor and employee should feel comfortable that there will be a dedicated time each week to address issues so that interruptions of non-urgent items can be minimized because they are saved for the weekly meeting.

  3. It should provide for easy and effective expectation setting and review for performance ongoing. If you do have an annual review then there should be no surprises and it can easily and quickly be prepared in an hour with a review of the 52 previous Weekly Status-Goal sheets.

  4. Longer term planning, reflection and course correcting is facilitated in response to the changing context instead of just in–the-moment crisis management and reactions to what is happening…which is most often what occurs in most companies

  5. Solutions to repeating issues should be developed and systematized. I find that in some companies unconsciously at least some employees thrive off of “being the hero”…only after the second or third time of solving a similar issue it should no longer be seen as being the hero and instead being the nitwit. If you don’t yet have a process for developing and systematizing solutions to repetitive issues (e.g. Six Sigma, S&OP, a good quality system), they should get surfaced and addressed at an individual level in these weekly reviews.

  6. Performance problems should be clearly surfaced and documented. If they are not addressed by the employee, they are then escalated according to your company’s policy. Misunderstandings should be reduced as should lawsuits and higher than needed severance to compensate for not treating and managing employee performance issues fairly and with integrity.

  7. Perceptions and fears around conflict should be reduced as there is now an agreed process whereby issues are supposed to be discussed. If they are not then the supervisor is not yet competent to supervise others and should be provided additional training, re-assigned to a job they are a fit for or provided the opportunity to pursue a career with another company.

I guarantee if you use this process with diligence and presence, your need to micro manage will be greatly reduced, the satisfaction of your employees will rise and the performance of your teams will rise; you will get much more done with less time and energy because you will be maximizing the talents and will of your people. Oh, and you’ll also have much better, more interesting and satisfying relationships with them…and also more fun.

About Rob Pilz

A financial and business creative, I really enjoy building and optimizing businesses. With a talent for creating leverage, my current passion is creating methodologies for making businesses high performing and humanly sustainable. Always looking for ways to improve the odds of business success I’ve developed a process combining reason and intuition to make better faster decisions that I call Zero Point Decision MakingTM. I welcome your questions comments or interest in working together at my website, to my email address at or phone U.S. 646-480-0507, Canada 604-722-5361.

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