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  • Writer's pictureDirk Baerts

The annual performance review is about looking forward


Performance review - look forward

The annual performance review is a recurring process that many companies go through every year. The views from employees and managers are mixed: some find it well worth it their time, others a complete waste and painful, then there are those who just look at it as the time when bonuses and raises are awarded. While most companies put a lot of effort into making this a valuable process, it is sometimes also regarded as a recurring tradition or an obligatory budget exercise more than a useful process.


But it does not have to be that way. A good annual performance review can be done relatively quickly, with most of the time spent on forward-looking plans. The condition being that both the reviewer-manager and reviewee-employee meet regularly during the year and have continuous open & honest conversations about the employee’s goals, contributions, successes, and challenges, about the employee’s expectations (with regards to her/his current & future role within the organization, the organization itself and the manager & the entire management team) and about her/his engagement (towards the broader organization and the company’s purpose & culture). These recurring 1/1 conversations should also allow time for feedback from the employee towards the manager (and the manager should be open to this feedback), allowing the manager to improve the interaction with and support towards the employee. If these talks are held on a regular basis, the annual review meeting should become a quick summary of these conversations, as all has been said already and views should be aligned. This will be true in most cases and in the exceptional circumstance where there is a difference of opinion during the review conversation, this is a clear indication of a fundamental communication breakdown between both parties that must be looked into by HR or a higher-level management team. However, it is rare for this happen, I have not experienced it in the many years I have been doing these reviews.


Now, when there is alignment, most of the review time should be attributed to forward-looking plans and objectives, focusing on what both parties are expecting and looking forward to the coming year. It can be used to align objectives and targets, create development plans and exchange ideas and thoughts about how to further develop the employee’s skills & expertise to enable her/him to perform better in the role or to be prepared for next the career step. Not only will this create more employee engagement and motivation, but it will also lay the foundation for the recurring 1/1 conversations for the upcoming year: it creates a sort of roadmap with specific objectives (or waypoints) to track the progress throughout the year, to be discussed during these 1/1s. Which then again makes the next annual review meeting a simple & enjoyable conversation, for both parties.


Maybe it is time to consider if your annual performance review process is working. If there is room for improvement, now is a good time to review this before you start your next cycle.


I2ACT Canada can assist your organization in providing your management team with training and tools to have effective conversations during the year with their team members and have engaging and influential annual review meetings. If you want to learn more about the services I2ACT Canada can offer your organization, visit the website or contact Dirk Baerts.

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