Annual Performance Reviews Are Past Their Prime!

As a CEO leader, annual performance reviews were one of my least favorite tasks

As a CEO leader, annual performance reviews were one of my least favorite tasks. Most managers I reviewed viewed them like having to drink sour milk. I asked my executives to review themselves ahead of time, match each strength with a weakness and all the other techniques I read about or tried.

In retrospect, I wish I had blown up the entire annual performance plan and especially its link to pay. Daily or weekly feedback focused on results is much more relevant and useful. This feedback is critical to creating a culture of trust where a leader’s messages are heard and respected. This culture leads to engaged employees and a motivated workforce.

However, the key to offering this feedback is the perspective of the message sender. If the feedback is positive and it’s offered as “good job” it will be seen as meaningless. If it’s negative and offered from an underlying attitude of “you’re an idiot” it’s not likely to have the desired effect (unless the effect desired is to make the person feel bad!) The recipient will know right away if there is a hidden agenda or “story behind the story” going on. The feedback has to be personal, relevant, timely and useful. It can not include criticism or judgment. That doesn’t mean you don’t communicate things that need to change, it means you do it in a way that assumes good intent and is not judgmental. Leader Kim Scott has done a wonderful job of summarizing her experiences in a recent post. See her thoughts here.

What are your experiences both as a giver and receiver of “performance feedback?”