If you’ve read our previous blog posts, you know that employee performance reviews should be happening regularly – not just once a year. While that’s a great first step in providing better feedback, there are a lot of other things that should go into employee reviews that aren’t necessarily par for the course. By creating employee review processes that include key drivers for success that may be a little “out of the box,” you’re likely to keep your employees happier and engaged longer. Here are a few ways to improve review cycles that will lead to better relationships between you and your employees.
Update job descriptions
Nothing is static about work. Our roles change as the company does. While we have a good handle on the job description when we come into our positions, it will likely evolve over time.
It’s good to spend some time one-on-one with your teammates to occasionally review their job descriptions for a few reasons. First, you need to understand how they’re contributing to the company over time. This is vital to be able to recognize them for the work they do that you may not even know about. And that work they do that you may not know about? It’s likely crucial to your organization’s success.
By spending time reworking the job description together to best reflect the employee’s current role, you’ll better understand everything on their plate, too. It’s important that no one in your company becomes so entrenched in work that they don’t feel comfortable taking time off. Ultimately, that’ll lead to burnout and a crash your company could have avoided altogether.
While asking questions about workload and making sure work/life balance is there, doing something a bit more objective like rephrasing or drafting a new job description will give you a better understanding as to where that employee is focused and how you can help them.
Second, if that employee were to leave and you needed to rehire for the position, could you guarantee the job description written three years ago when they started is accurate as of today? Are there some things the employee did that perhaps weren’t written down, and were the “secret sauce” to their job being so successful that you need to rehire for it?
Instead of doing brain dumps the last two weeks of their tenure, occasionally resetting the job description to reflect their contributions now will be extremely helpful later on when you begin to look for their replacement.
Know how the team works together
When we set out to create objectives for the quarter or year, we often look inward first: What is my role in the organization and how do I help achieve the bigger company goals?
While that is important, it’s equally as important to understand what the team around you is trying to accomplish. Employee reviews are a great way to calibrate these efforts.
When only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list three of their company’s strategic priorities according to a recent MIT study, we’re positive there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to understanding smaller pieces of the puzzle – like our teammates main objectives outside of their day-to-day tasks.
Before we got into this habit at Kin, I received a list of past objectives from a group of teammates I didn’t work closely with. I quickly scanned the list and realized there were several objectives there that fell in my wheelhouse. It wasn’t that these should have been my objectives, but I could have helped them more easily accomplish them with the knowledge and experience I had in my role.
This experience helped us realize the importance of sharing objectives with one another and ensuring that we were more transparent. We were great at talking about our day-to-day work. Our bigger objectives for the year often went undiscussed outside of manager-employee meetings.
This led into even bigger opportunities. From there, we knew the paths that each other were on which led to more freely providing feedback based not only on daily performance, but our larger goals as well.
One key way to make sure this happens is to put someone in charge of it. My role at Kin was ultimately to connect the dots between individuals and their work. Making sure that everyone knew each others’ objectives was key, as was making sure that their objectives naturally flowed into their work. When I saw overlap and room for connections between two employees, I would bring them together so that they could see it, too. It led to a really well-gelled team. They not only had great working relationships, but also had immense respect for each other both inside and outside the workplace.
Understand what drives employees
Someone who came into your workplace as a very tactical worker may eventually develop a more visionary mindset as they become involved in the work. Or, it may be vice versa. While you may learn this during the interview, it’s employee reviews that will help you keep a pulse on their mindset after the hire.
We use the thinking wavelength test as a preliminary way to gauge where employees stand when they are first hired. This allows us to understand how they associate themselves with risk, multitasking, logical thinking, task management, ambiguity and more.
The higher a person scores on the test, the more likely they are a leader who enjoys big pictures and casting visions. The lower they score, the more likely they are to be well-suited for task-oriented work. Put a visionary thinker in a task-oriented job and they’ll quickly be unhappy. Same for a task-oriented worker being put into a visionary job.
From there, we can have deeper conversations with the employee about where they feel most valued in a company: either as someone who enjoys checking things off a to-do list, or someone who likes creating the to-do lists…or somewhere in between.
Oftentimes if you feel like it’s a rough start for a new employee, it’s because you’re asking them to begin at the opposite end of where they feel they can contribute best.
One thing to note though is just like people evolve, so do their mindsets when it comes to work. Annually, we have our entire team retake the thinking wavelength test. While some don’t budge too much, others switch completely. In fact, our founder went from being a computer engineer to a visionary thinker. While I didn’t know him as the computer engineer, I can’t imagine him as anyone other than someone who can cast complete visions for a company without missing a beat.
People change. Make sure you acknowledge and appreciate that by ensuring employees have work that provides both value to your company and fulfillment to them. Use employee reviews as a way to truly connect with those you work with, not just to provide feedback back and forth.