What is the caring face of an annual review? It is when the company and HR department show that they are as, or more, interested in you and your whole life aspirations as your role within the company and how it impacts the bottom line…

Progressive companies like Netflix, GE, Accenture, my favourite DLGL, are rethinking their process. GE is abolishing their system which gives employees a performance score related to ther peers. Accenture instead of annual evaluations and rankings are taking on a more personalized and timely approach. UCLA researcher Samuel Culbert says of performance reviews that they they are “a curse on corporate America”. Whatever country you are in, the traditional performance review frequently causes as many, or more, problems than it solves. People today want open communication, they want to feel they are a valued and appreciated team member, they want regular, frequent, personal feedback and constructive encouragement.

What can you and your company do to make caring reviews a fundamental part of the company policy?

  • Change annual reviews to more regular meetings, e.g. every 3-4 months.

Frankly, how can any company expect an employee to believe they care if they only dedicate one meeting per year of about an hour to their employee’s interest, when the employee may be giving 2000+ hours to the company!

  • Include a fulfilment section and whole life goals section in these reviews, or have regular separate meetings specifically to address these.
  • Separate reviews for professional development from those for financial targets and monetary based incentives.
  • Be honest, tactful but honest – on both sides! Don’t exaggerate a skill or a problem to avoid confrontation or soften the blow. If something needs addressing better to be clear and accurate. No-one can improve if they aren’t aware of the issue. No-one wants to improve if they feel comments are unfair, disrespectful or inflated. Any negative feedback should be focused on the issue and not the person. The employee should always be given ample encouragement to respond and share their thoughts and vision of situations.

Specifics – As part of this, give specific examples of good, bad and encouraging behaviour from throughout the time period since the last review. Noticing detail shows interest and appreciation. It shows you really ‘see’ the person or company, and are committed to them.

  • Have a real conversation with equal input on both sides. This isn’t kindergarten, it isn’t headmistress and naughty child. It is two independent, capable adults showing respect for each other’s input, constructive advice and support. Share and discuss in a polite, friendly manner, no aggression, condescension or belittling comments. If you are the interviewer, ask the employee how they feel about all subjects, their own objectives, ideas for development etc. Build a genuine relationship of openness and encouragement – this is another reason why having meetings at least 3 or 4 times a year, or more, is so productive. If you don’t know someone at all except for an unpleasant hour in their company, it doesn’t exactly give credence to the company’s wish to be a ‘caring’ employer.
  • Managers to coaches… Use coaching approaches to guide your co-workers and team members. For goals that are set don’t wait until the due date, check in regularly to see, and support, towards the objective. Don’t just have on big distant goal, break it down into smaller steps so everyone can see a clear, and close, picture of what they are striving for. If it is a weekly goal, don’t think this is short enough a time span to push interim feedback and encouragement to one side. Get input and feedback at least a couple of times during that week.

This interest, encouragement and show of solidarity from the management promotes the easy transition to quality, productive and frequent reviews throughout the year instead of this soul-destroying one per year interrogation better known as ‘the annual review’

Finally – IMAGINE: If the employee was your best client how would you act?

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Anna Letitia Cook is Founder and CEO of WomenUP Ltd and creator of the process SCOPE for career, fulfilment and success. She has a passion for inspiring women to shape their own future, incorporating their own values, beliefs and sense of purpose to achieve their objectives.

Anna Letitia Cook
Anna Letitia Cook

Anna Letitia Cook is passionate about mentoring women in finding clarity and fulfilment in their choices. She created and became CEO of her first company in the entertainment industry at age 32. Midlife approaching, hungry for a dynamic change, she refocused her experience, founding WomenUP Ltd to help women shape their own future. Creator of the 'Unstoppable Goddess 4-dimensional Life Design' and the 'SCOPE' process for career fulfilment. Author of ‘Unstoppable Goddess: Every Women’s Guide to Freedom, Fulfilment and Success’. UN Women's 2016-2017 Global Champion for Change at Empower Women.

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