Managing Annual Reviews

Managing Annual Reviews

At our first event of 2023, the free January lunchtime live session, we were delighted to welcome some new attendees alongside familiar faces.   We discussed preparing for those dreaded annual performance reviews and Joanne kicked us off with an overview of some key points, including some of the themes covered in her previous article on the subject.

Performance reviews are a topic that elicits a range of responses - from a loud sigh and groan of disengagement and dislike for the process, to an intense sense of stress, anticipation or pressure and that's not to mention all the potential scope for feelings of relief or disbelief or even anger afterwards! There are certainly different schools of thought around how best to do these reviews, and few organisations get everything right in practise, but the concept of the annual appraisal exists due to scientific evidence support for the benefits of goal orientated development plans, strategy-linked individual objectives and the benefit of regular reflective practise.   For the purposes of this session however, we accepted their de facto existence and focused on some simple factors which can make these discussions a less stressful experience all round...

Performance reviews are most effective...

* When appraisals are part of an ongoing regular, constructive dialogue between you and your manager. (So if you are a leader  - remember to schedule regular check-ins with your team!)

* When we feel listened to, know our contributions are 'seen' and valued, and our needs are well supported. (Leaders - don't forget to explicitly acknowledge what you have heard, in to follow up with any relevant recognition in a way that your team member would respond best)

* When the physical environment is appropriate for the nature of the discussion - ideally a comfortable and private space, with no interruptions. (Perhaps take the initiative if you don't like the proposed venue?).

* When we are personally prepared - ie we list and evaluate our own achievements, we gather feedback, we consider opportunities for further growth, building on our strengths, and we are clear about what further input we need from our manager or the organisation to help us succeed.

We talked about how taking control of the process for ourselves can help.  It's YOUR review!  And the format is intended to be an opportunity for two-way dialogue.   Rather than waiting for the dreaded invite, why not take the initiative and suggest the times and places to meet that you prefer? Share inputs and a proposed agenda upfront - to avoid any nasty surprises!  

Attendees at the session recognised the challenge of making time to fit in all the preparation that is needed for both giving and receiving reviews.  We also shared experiences of objectives becoming easily outdated in demanding and rapidly shifting work environments.  

We discussed how keeping it simple and prioritising short, regular time blocks to focus back on the objective can be effective.  A quick email to verify whether x alternative demand should replace y on your objectives at/near the time it happens can avoid hours tying yourself in knots at year end, trying to remind yourself what was agreed and explain why last year's objectives haven't been met!  

It was an engaging discussion and we are grateful to all those who contributed so openly on the day. To assist you further with the whole process around reviews, we have added some helpful new resources to the library  Why not head over to the page now and there you will find a downloadable personal SWOT analysis, feedback form, and simple self assessment form.  A few minutes spent on these simple tools can make a big difference!  

All the best with your preparations and with your review!  

Joanne and Maggie