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Performance reviews: The season of sharing (Part 1: What's the focus)

I received a few requests to tackle performance reviews, and while it is a HUGE topic worthy of numerous books rather than a few short posts, I decided to focus on three quick(ish) thoughts over the next three days to kick off the conversation. If you want more in this series, let me know!


Part 1: What's the focus

Managers often dislike the review process - not because they don't want to share feedback but because it is daunting to start from nothing. Depending on your company, you may have specific sections or a blank slate with no guidance; if you have yet to receive direction from your leaders, ask for it. Themes rise to the top each year, and senior leaders owe it to their teams to narrow the focus, allowing more employees to receive consistent feedback and lessening the likelihood of a generic "meets expectations" review. Senior leaders can offer general topics and talking points that managers can personalize into strengths and weaknesses based on employee performance. Here's an example of a broad topic (Teamwork) and three talking points that can be made into a strength or weakness.


General Topic: Teamwork

  • Communicates workload

    • Strength: Keeps manager and team up to date on current capacity. Asks for more work when less busy and works with others to share when needed.

    • Weakness: Acts more as an individual contributor, rarely assisting others with heavier workloads.

  • Participation in team discussions

    • Strength: Courageously speaks up, identifying and addressing issues.

    • Weakness: Often quiet and distracted in team discussions

  • Attitude towards others

    • Strength: Creates positivity and often operates from a growth mindset.

    • Weakness: Not respectful of time, needs, and opinions of others; creates uncertainty in the team (insert your employee's example).

If you are ever in doubt about what to say or how to say it - talk to your HR department.


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