Today I had my APR. Over the years, I’ve had my share of performance reviews, sometimes called performance appraisals. Some companies never had them. At one employer they were conducted but irregular. Many were very subjective and unstructured. Those didn’t provide much value. In my more recent workplaces, I’ve been fortunate to have had very formal reviews that were well documented and based on performance to measurable metrics. While you may hear arguments against the value of performance appraisals in general, I’ve received valuable feedback when they have been done properly and I’ve used those open conversations to better understand where and how I could improve. Take today for example.
What I liked about today’s review:
- Conducted within the scheduled time-frame for annual reviews. My manager didn’t drag things out or leave me waiting in anticipation.
- I had an opportunity to read my written appraisal prior to meeting with my manager.
- During the meeting, she gave me her undivided attention even though she had plenty of reasons to be distracted or pulled away.
- Her assessment was fair. While my overall rating was above average, it wasn’t exaggerated. I know I have plenty of room for improvement in my current role and the rating reflected that while still being encouraging. It acknowledged where I’ve done well and I feel that my efforts have been recognized.
- At the end, she left time for two-way dialogue and gave me plenty of time to voice any feedback I might have. She asked good follow-up questions and we came up with a good game plan on how to tackle some of the current challenges I have. I felt very comfortable to open up and speak freely.
- It was meaningful. We weren’t just going through the motions for the sake of having an APR
What could have been better:
- Although the outline and process were very structured, metrics were not covered in detail. Most of the discussion focused on subjective behaviors. The one metric that was covered was my weak area, so that part felt a bit skewed.
The whole thing lasted about an hour and we ended on a positive note. I left feeling motivated to work harder and focus more on the right things.
The Other Side of the Table
Throughout my career, I’ve also had my time sitting on the other side of the table. I know firsthand what it takes to prepare properly for annual reviews and the impact it could have for those on the receiving end. Exercising emotional intelligence is crucial. Treating reviews as “one size fits all” is a common mistake.
An important lesson I’ve learned over the years is that reviews are less stressful on both sides when expectations are clear from the start, and feedback is provided on a regular basis whether through regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings, or via regular reporting of metrics…actual performance compared to plan/target. If this is done, very little if anything that comes up during a proper review should be a surprise to either side. It becomes just a formal appraisal that is documented and provides a basis for potential merit increases and/or promotions. If a review is more negative than positive and an overall poor rating is inarguable then that simply prompts a decision whether to take more drastic measures or, if possible, to find a better ‘seat on the bus.’
The Right Bus
Finding the right seat on the bus is important, but you have to be on the right busin the first place. Is it going where you want to go? Will you enjoy the ride along the way. Does it make frequent enough stops in case you feel like getting off? As far as employers go, when choosing an organization to work for, I’ve also learned that corporate culture, values and leadership mean much more than the size of the paycheck, the free lunches, or the ping pong table in the game room (though such things are definitely nice to have). Good companies inherently follow best practices for creating a culture that fosters professional growth as well as the bottom line. A healthy environment and playing the right role (given your skills and experience) optimize your chances for success. When the time comes that things no longer align, then it’s a tell-tale sign to get off the bus and move on.
[Original entry written on February 9, 2016]
- From your experience, what are the primary components of a meaningful and effective performance appraisal?
- What’s the most significant outcome you’ve experienced from either giving or receiving a performance review?
- For anyone new to the process, what would be your best piece of advice?
Credit for Featured Image: prime-decision.com/behavioural-insight-posts/behavioural-insights-for-hr/