Updated: Mar 4
Deep down they were created to be useful to allow companies to lead, nurture & grow employees. Sadly, like many things, they didn’t end up doing this.
How did it all go wrong? Most companies use performance reviews to only look at that past. Basically have you done a good enough job to not get fired today. That’s all performance reviews have added up to. What’s worse? Most reviews are top-down. So someone farther away from the front lines criticizing the boots on the ground who are getting their hands dirty.
So what were performance reviews created for and what should they be? They must be specifically aligned to the employee career trajectory (see my Tidbit about career trajectory). Meaning what? Was the employee able to check off the boxes on their career map to reach the next marker in time? This must be a 360 review of BOTH employee and manager. What? Did the leader do enough to help their employee achieve their goals and check off their boxes? If yes, great. What can the leader do to continue that forward momentum to ensure the next milestone is achieved on time. If not, why did the leader fail to help enough, and what can the leader do to help ensure future milestones are met. This is called Extreme Ownership. If you want to read an amazing book about this, check out Extreme Ownership Jocko Willink.
Most companies use performance reviews to only look at that past. Basically did you do enough of a good job to not get fired today. That’s all performance reviews have added up to.
At the same time, the employee reviews their manager regarding the engagement, mentoring and assistance in meeting the milestone. When both leader & employee are aligned it’s much easier for the employee to do an honest self-reflection.
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