Our Performance Review Report found that the top problem employees have with reviews is that they're simply too long. It’s hard to blame them. Who would want to sit and listen to criticisms about themselves for an hour?
It turns out that both employees and managers hate performance reviews. Making them better starts with making them briefer. Here are some ways to cover everything you need to without making the process excruciating:
One reason why typical reviews are so long is because they are only once per year. They’re accompanied by mounds of paperwork for both the reviewer and the reviewed employee. They become another box to tick off.
Incorporating reviews into the routine of the workplace makes it easier to handle quickly. Weekly or monthly meetings with employees make it a less stressful, less time-intensive effort.
Practicing more frequent feedback also means that managers don’t need to prepare as much. The issues to discuss will be fresh in your mind — and you won’t have to keep a list all year about what the employee’s done.
2. Base reviews on a single topic
Another way to make performance reviews shorter is to base the process on each part of an employee’s job. Instead of making it about everything they did that year, it’s about their performance on a single project or their professional responsibilities.
This not only makes the process briefer, but it also allows you to focus on individual components of an employee’s performance. By honing in on strong and weak points, the employee will have a clearer picture of where they’re doing well and where they need to improve.
3. Discuss rather than evaluate
An annual performance review might only be an hour, but it will feel longer than that to the employee. Instead of listing all the areas in which an employee needs to improve, approach the process like a conversation. Find out what the employee thinks about where they’ve done well on and where they need to improve. A dialogue is a more effective way to approach feedback.
By involving the employee in the process, you demonstrate that you trust them to evaluate their own performance. Self-evaluation and time to reflect are valuable tools for improving performance. If they’re way off base, then you have bigger problems you need to discuss.
4. Make it about objectives
What do you want this employee to accomplish? By making performance reviews about specific, measurable goals, you give the performance review direction. Like an essay without a thesis, a performance review without objectives tends to drone on and on in search of a direction.
Making performance reviews shorter is a good first step toward updating the process. As more companies tear down traditional hierarchies and embrace feedback loops, expect that your process will continue to evolve.