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To Keep Your High Performers From Hating Performance Appraisals, Try Using A Proudest Moments List

Posted by | July 5, 2017 | Appraiser, Employer

Via Forbes : To Keep Your High Performers From Hating Performance Appraisals, Try Using A Proudest Moments List

Employee performance reviews are not particularly effective. You may have seen the research that currently, only 29% of employees say they ‘always’ know whether their performance is where it should be. And more than a third of employees ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ know whether their performance is where it should be. This means that even though most companies use some form of performance appraisals, most employees still don’t really know if they’re doing a good or poor job.

And not only are performance appraisals supposed to offer employees some insight about their performance, they’re also supposed to help employees grow and develop. Well, more research has found that about 50% of employees say their leader rarely or never takes an active role in helping them to grow and develop. So clearly, performance appraisals need some help.

Performance appraisals, if done right, actually can be useful, productive, meaningful conversations that do what they’re intended to do: improve employee performance and promote growth and development. There are many ways to fix performance appraisals, but here I want to highlight one incredibly easy technique: Start every review by asking your employees “What are your proudest moments?”

You might already do a self-appraisal, but there’s a big difference between proudest moments and a self-appraisal, and that difference is what makes proudest moments so motivating. When you ask for a self-appraisal you ask for the proudest moments, but you also ask for the biggest failures. And while it might not be a bad thing for your low performers to have to bring you an honest evaluation of their biggest failures, it’s actually quite harmful to your top performers.

There’s a different psychological dynamic that happens when high and low performers experience failure. Low performers might not know about the failure, they might not care, or they may even have intended for the failure to happen. But one of the reasons high performers are high performers is that they have a high degree of critical self-awareness. Which is wonderful because most of the time these valuable employees already know they messed up—even before you tell them. And they get right to work on fixing the problem and making self-corrections so they never mess up like that again. However, most high performers are also prone to beating themselves up pretty hard when they mess up. And that can quickly turn the focus of the review back onto stuff they’ve already corrected and moved past. Plus you might just get swayed listening to a high performer beat himself up and give lower marks than are deserved.

Keeping things focused and balanced for high performers is only one reason to ask about proudest moments. Starting reviews with this simple question also helps leaders avoid the biggest employee de-motivator: missing the greatest things your people did that year. Because what you learn by asking this question gives you all sorts of great information to work from during the review. Let’s face it, managers are human too. I can’t remember what every one of my employees did 12 months ago, and I have a pretty decent memory. The fact is, you’re not going to remember every single little thing, so have your people make the list and tell you their proudest moments. It makes a big difference to them if the two great things they did get remembered and talked about a bit.

Another benefit is asking about proudest moments also clues you in as to the kind of meeting you’re in for. If an employee tells you, “I am just so proud of myself because I made it on time for work 70% of the time this past year which is a huge improvement over the 50% I managed the year before,” it tells you what kind of conversation you’re in for. You’re going to go into that review with a very clear direction.

So before your next performance review period starts, simply ask your people to make a list of their proudest moments. If your organization conducts 12-month reviews, ask employees for their proudest moments from the past year. Or if you do six-month reviews, have them look back on the past six months and answer, in writing, the question: What were your proudest moments? And just like self-appraisals, always do your own evaluation first before you read employee proudest moments. This allows you to avoid neurological biases like the anchoring effect that can skew your evaluation and make the review less objective.

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