How to make performance reviews more interesting

Performance reviews should be more about goal setting and having meaningful conversations. They should be enjoyable for both employees and managers.

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While performance reviews are an essential part of the workplace, the very thought of conducting these reviews can be uncomfortable for managers and can cause employees to break into a sweat.

Simply put, performance reviews are not just dreaded by employees, but their managers too. So what makes these reviews least looked forward to?

The fact that these reviews are formal and monotonous, and involve open dialogue, adds to the discomfort of the two parties involved. The anxiety caused by performance reviews creates stress in the organisational environment. There are disgruntled employees who
feel that their issues are not being heard or are being ignored by the organisation. Then there are managers who consider performance reviews as an extra burden or a workload they could do without.

Amidst all this stress, what people fail to realise is that feedback and reviews are what motivate employees to grow. It gives them a better sense of how they are performing. Since these reviews are so important, it is better to make these reviews more effective and fun, instead of running away from them. Shorter andmore to-the-point sessions may be more welcome.

Here is how performance reviews can be made more fun and easy.

Do not rush

Performance reviews should be done patiently. Managers should be given ample time to conduct reviews so that they don’t feel pressurised to rush. They should not be given targets or deadlines lest the whole exercise becomes a tick-in-the-box activity. Keeping the process simple using relevant software and tools can go a long way in making the whole review more organised and casual.

“Do not make the review process a very formal event involving setting up of a calendar and a meeting room, and fixing of a date and schedule, and so on.”

Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo

Be informal

Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo, says, “Do not make the review process a very formal event involving setting up of a calendar and a meeting room, and fixing of a date and schedule, and so on”.

Sharma also advises against making performance reviews an annual affair. He feels that the performance conversation should be a continuous activity that should happen in a relaxed and open space, over a cup of coffee.

Keep it casual

Communication is most effective when it is casual and when the parties involved are relaxed. Serious conversations tend to intimidate people. Therefore, it is crucial to make the employees feel comfortable and at ease. The best way to create such a comfortable environment is to begin with a casual chat. For instance, cracking jokes is an ideal way to break the ice.

Enjoy the process

The performance-review process should be enjoyable for both the employees and their managers. Too much of formality and seriousness may deprive the conversation of its very essence.

“We don’t have stringent performance appraisal criteria, because we realised that employees felt a lot of pressure. We learnt this from the feedback received from the employees via meaningful conversations.”

Tanaya Mishra, head of HR, Endo Par

Tanaya Mishra, Head of HR, Endo Par believes, “It is all about having a meaningful conversation.
“Talking about her own firm and employees’ goal setting, Mishra says,”Everybody is outbound, setting goals for 2023. And we’ve realised that the teams are grappling with a lot of things while trying to work with each other. Therefore, we have to ensure that there is better bonding amongst them”.

At Endo, small activities are organised to motivate employees to enact their roles. These activities are used to project what their function is; how they see their function; how they feel about working in the organisation, and so on. Such activities are fun and lead to a lot of laughter and light moments.

“It is more about how they are working with each other than just about goals,” enunciates Mishra.

The organisation holds an objective discussion to set the goals, and therefore, “We have team goals that are cascaded. It is a collaborative effort. So, nobody is saying, ‘look, I am telling you, therefore you have to do it’.”

Reward good work

Everyone in the organisation looks forward to rewards. Providing employees with appropriate rewards for their good work, will motivate them even more.

Employees should be made aware that if they are doing great work, then they will be paid better and earn incentives.

Mishra reveals, “We don’t have stringent performance appraisal criteria, because we realised that employees felt a lot of pressure. We learnt this from the feedback received from the employees via meaningful conversations”.

According to Mishra, two primary factors for subordinates and supervisors to have very meaningful conversations with each other are, the areas of work and the Endo value. Endo value includes “collaboration, teamwork, innovation, and so on”. And these endo values are a must for everyone,” says Mishra.

Role play

“The real transformation that can happen by wearing the ‘fun hat’ during appraisals is role play, especially role reversal. That is, appraisees playing the role of appraisers in the presence of an independent observer who can give a confidential report to the reviewer highlighting the trends emerging, if any, for improvement of the appraiser and reviewer,” says A Thiru, former group president-HR, Cadila Pharmacuticals.

This can make the simple process of one-to-one appraisal more fun and interesting.

“The real transformation that can happen by wearing the ‘fun hat’ during appraisals is role play, especially role reversal,”

A Thiru, former group president-HR, Cadila Pharmacuticals.

Make it a two-way review

Making team members evaluate their leader’s or manager’s performance, while maintaining confidentiality, can not only be fun but can pave the path to building effective teamwork and producing better outcomes, says Thiru.

Make it effective

Don’t make performance reviews fun just for the sake of it. These reviews can be enjoyable and effective at the same time. Employees’ self-evaluations and opinions require more consideration and weight.

Take internal & external inputs

“Let us give due importance to self-appraisal and peer inputs, especially from internal customers. We should seek external inputs from customers as well as other stakeholders, rather than allow cartoons to overshadow the seriousness of the appraisal process in the name of fun,”suggests Thiru.

Focus on conversations

Sharma shares that in his organisation they don’t use any tool or software to judge the performance of the employees. Rather, they focus on conversations.

“The moment you use a tool, you are trying to evaluate and put somebody on the spot,” points out Sharma. The tool or the artificial intelligence (AI) will only say what a person has done or not done, or done wrong or right. In the past, there were goals and there was the employee’s self-appraisal —what the employee has achieved or not achieved— followed by the manager’s evaluation,” explains Sharma.

Focus on enabling

The smartest way to conduct a performance
review that is fun for both employees and managers is to have a conversation about performance enablement, rather than just reviewing the performance.

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