The dreaded performance review! There are very few managers or employees that look forward to performance reviews. But maybe that’s because they are focused in all the wrong places.

Instead of focusing on the past – looking back at last year – shift your focus. Focus forward! Where is the organization headed? Where is your team headed? How does this employee contribute to the success of both? This will help you pay attention to what’s important in how this employee can contribute – and create energy and momentum for what’s coming. Doesn’t that seem more positive and productive?

It’s been documented repeatedly, that performance reviews kill employee morale and engagement. I’m certain that’s not intentional on the part of most managers. The challenge is that much of the review process is focused on re-hashing last year. This year, shift your lens as you complete the written review and the conversation. It’s certain to be refreshing. Rather than putting goals at the end of the review document and conversation – start there!

Imagine this conversation with an employee:

  • Let’s start with where we need to get this coming year – what needs to be accomplished.
  • Now let’s talk about what you need to do to support those initiatives.
  • So, what are you doing now that’s working – and will contribute to our new goals? And what are you doing that needs to shift because it’s not supporting what we need to accomplish?

That conversation seems very different to me. It’s forward focused, it creates momentum, and it aligns the employee’s work without dragging through unnecessary parts of the past that only serve to decrease energy and morale.

So how will you complete your performance reviews this year? Will you focus on the past and all that went wrong? Or will you keep looking forward, create energy for the coming year, and align your team member’s work with all that needs to get done?

Performance reviews done well are a great opportunity to create the momentum and alignment you need. Try it – focus forward!

Take Action:

  • Share department goals with each of your team members.
  • Ask each person to draft individual goals that support the department goals.
  • Have each team member consider what they should start, stop & continue.
  • Focus forward in your review meetings!