Start the Performance Evaluation Process with Employee Input
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Start the Performance Evaluation Process with Employee Input

Let the employee do the talking in the first performance evaluation meeting

First you ask the to fill out the employee input sheet. And you ask them to complete this form and print two copies with them to a performance evaluation meeting that you schedule typically one week later.

To set up this performance evaluation meeting, you tell the employee that you’ll spend 45 minutes reviewing the document. Now, you block out an hour because there could be some spillage. But in any normal situation, it really should take you 45 minutes and no more than an hour.

The manager should seek clarification and listen. It’s a very unusual experience for most of us managers. Most of the time, when we’re in the performance evaluation meeting with our direct report, we’re used to talking and having them take notes and listen.

In this performance evaluation setting, they talk. Managers ask questions. Managers take notes. 90% of lip movement should be coming from the employee and 10% from the manager. That’s the ideal way to run this meeting.

Questions to ask in the performance evaluation
There are three big questions that populate this employee input sheet. The first question is this; what have you done for the company lately? And what you’re trying to do there is you’re trying to talk about things you’ve done that you’re proud of – accomplishments, and things that you’ve done that you are disappointed in. Now, if you look at the form you’ll notice there’s not a lot of space – not a lot of white space there. Yeah, we want you to put four bullets with things that stand out in your mind you’re proud of, four bullets of things that if you could have done it over again you’d have done it different.

Oddly enough, your best employees have the easiest time telling you about their disappointments. I mean they can tell you all about it, “I didn’t get this done yet. I didn’t have that done. I didn’t do this the way I wanted to.”

When they go to the accomplishments section, They often surprise themselves. This is a great exercise to help somebody empower themselves and get a sober assessment on where the employee is in terms of what’s good, what’s not so good, and what’s going on. Notice they’re doing it, not the manager.

Second thing they’re going to talk about in the performance evaluation is what they’ve done for themselves lately. You want to know what new software did you learn to operate, what new relationships did you build, what new clients can you now go to, what new speeches can you give, etc. Essentially, how are you more valuable this year than the year ago when we talked last?

Now, that second question is very important. It’s very casual, almost conversational. You want it to be casual and conversational so that somebody has the feeling that they’re putting down notes here for a conversation they’re going to have with you, instead of a serious, formal performance evaluation. Now, is this going to file? Yeah, put a copy in the file. Okay, but that’s a secondary thing. The primary thing is we’re preparing to have a good discussion.

Don’t confuse simplicity of form with lack of impact
Now, just because it’s conversational doesn’t mean there are not some profound ideas built into the performance evaluation. For example, think about what that implies about career ownership. In other words, who owns your career? Well, the answer is you do.

The third question on this end of the performance evaluation is “what would you like to be when you grow up?” What do you want to be doing in five? And what do you want to be doing ultimately?

Now, some of you, again, look at that and they go, “Oh, God. I’d have to fix this. I couldn’t ask that. Because if I asked it that way I mean like somebody could come in and like talk about their personal life or something.

Some people bring their lives along with them when they come to work. Now it’s not mandatory that somebody talk to you about their parent who is developing Alzheimer’s or their kid who’s got a learning disability or the fact that they were nominated to be, you know, the president of, you know, their honorary society or their professional association. But if they feel that’s relevant – if that’s something they need to talk about or would help them to talk about, that’s a good thing to get off their chest and for them to interact with you about.

And the gift you’ve given them is time during the performance evaluation to reflect on themselves so they can come share that information with you. It does feel like a gift and it does, you know, it causes people when they have an audience to come perform for, that they consider important i.e their boss, they actually do some serious thinking.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar “No More Performance Reviews! – A Revolutionary Approach to Performance Feedback” by Gary Markle

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