The fourth quarter brings a wrap up to the year, and with that comes the annual review. We’ve discussed a few times why annual reviews aren’t the most effective way to provide feedback and motivation to employees, but if you’re working on transitioning out of them, you may still need to effectively have one in the coming weeks.
What’s most interesting is that Gallup studies show that managers spend, on average, 17 hours preparing for annual reviews. That’s nearly half an average work week! The worst part? Only 20% of employees report that their review motivates them to do well next year.
There’s a massive disconnect. But there are some tweaks to help bridge the gap.
Set a timeline for when reviews should be completed
If you’re in a company that’s large enough, you likely have multiple managers performing annual reviews. The issue is that some managers may be on top of it, while others have a lot on their plate, pushing annual reviews back a few weeks.
This doesn’t create cohesiveness across the team and splits employee experience across the organization. Some feel well-tuned after their annual review, others are still wondering when their review will ever be scheduled. Luckily it’s an easy fix.
When you set up your reviews in a system like Kin, you can set a timeline for which you’d like reviews to be completed within. Just choose the open and close date of review periods when preparing your annual review (which is easy, since we have templates available!). This will give guidelines to your managers on when the reviews should be completed.
The nice thing with a transparent tool that’s tracking reviews is you’ll also be able to quickly log in and see who has completed them or not, and send quick reminders to those getting close to – or past – the deadline.
Document, document, document
You likely can’t remember what you had for lunch three Fridays ago, so the chances of remembering everything an employee did over the course of the year is slim.
This makes documenting conversations and quick feedback sessions so vital to a successful annual review. At Kin, we use notes within our system to keep track of conversations we’ve had throughout the year, and smaller feedback sessions among the team.
We also utilize our objectives feature to keep track of the progress of goals we set to accomplish over a specific period of time.
All of this helps us keep track of what’s going on in real-time, and provides a rock-solid record of the past without us having to frantically go through our inboxes, text messages and other forms of communication to recall performance.
With only 29% of employees strongly agreeing that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and only 26% strongly agreeing that they are accurate, we have a lot of room for improvement. Documentation is absolutely essential.
Ask employees to review themselves
There’s often a disconnect in annual reviews, and the numbers tell a story about it. According to Gallup, only 14% of employees strongly agree the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve, and 20% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Ouch.
Oftentimes, this is because it’s approached in the tradition of a one-way street. The manager provides feedback, the employee listens. This isn’t productive, and often shuts down any chance of a great experience that builds trust and helps employees unlock potential.
It’s vital to understand how an employee views their work and their role in the organization in order to provide any type of sound feedback or criticism. By creating a space for them to review themselves, you’ll get a glimpse into how their performance is going by their own standards, and then meet them where they’re at.
This allows you to see their priorities, goals and objectives, and if they line up with what your expectations were for them. If they don’t? There’s a communication breakdown. An annual review is the perfect time to address that.
It’s so important to have both sides of the story before you truly are able to critique and inspire an employee for the following year. By setting this foundation prior to the review, you’re able to read the response and tailor yours to what will make it most efficient and productive for both of you.
Ask employees to review the company
Your experience in a company is so much more than what you do day-in and day-out. It’s about the culture of the organization, the people that you work with, the goals that the company has that you’re expected to help achieve, and more.
At what point do you allow for feedback on those topics in an annual review to take place?
When we ask for feedback from employees about the company as a whole, we often receive some of the best tips to grow the organization. They often have insight from a different perspective that we do. All we need to do is ask.
At Kin, we have built this into our review functionality. There, employees are automatically asked to provide feedback on the company allowing you to see their written response once the review is completed.
Don’t discuss salary expectations or merit increases during the initial review period
Money can mean a lot to an employee, and it’s often hard to concentrate on anything else when you know that a potential merit increase is on its way.
To avoid this and create a space where employees can actually register a manager’s performance feedback, schedule two conversations. Truthfully, they both deserve their own time on the floor, undistracted.
Employees’ livelihoods are vital to their success and engagement. With Kin’s Employee Performance Review Builder, you can create follow up questions to ask after the initial feedback is given. This allows space for feedback on their performance to be the main focus during the review, with a follow up to discuss salary expectations after the feedback is discussed.
Follow up with a game plan within a week’s time
Annual reviews are the first step, not the finish line. This should be the beginning of a brand new plan. From here, you’ll create objectives and goals for the following year, hopefully broken down into bite-sized chunks that are either monthly or quarterly.
Feedback begins with clear expectations. A recent Gallup study showed that only 14% of managers felt confident in their ability to give feedback. By creating a plan up front with items that the employee must accomplish, you’re setting up these expectations well, which will allow you to provide easy feedback in the future that is tailored to their set goals and objectives.
Why does this matter? Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores, Gallup estimates. This variation is in turn responsible for severely low worldwide employee engagement. By taking the time to have a two-way conversation during your annual review, and build a plan for success at the end of it, you’re setting them up for another successful 12 months.