Good performance shouldn’t hurt


Let’s be honest. Performance reviews suck. Not only do most employees and managers dread them alike, but traditional reviews do little to improve performance. Instead, they have the potential to reduce engagement in the workplace.

It’s tempting to contemplate saying adios to reviews entirely. But feedback is a necessary component to both employee performance and engagement, so how do we do it without having the opposite effects?

First, ditch the rating scales, or at least reduce your dependency on them. Rating scales leave leaders open to a slew of biases, and even good ratings leave employees feeling inadequate. Instead of rankings, use open-ended questions to create a two-way performance conversation. Conversations allow both parties to give feedback and learn how they can both adjust their actions to create great results.

Second, focus performance reviews on promoting growth mindsets in employees instead of fixed mindsets. Fixed mindsets cause employees to avoid the effort that leads to learning and growth for fear of failure. They are often due to the tendency of reviews to focus heavily on past poor performance rather than what they can do to strengthen their skills and improve their potential in the future.

Finally, conversations need to happen more regularly than once or twice a year. Open, honest feedback delivered in the moment goes a long way to motivating good performance.

If you’re interested in taking the stress out of performance reviews for everybody involved, learn more about performance conversations here.