“I haven’t had ______ in over 9 years!” In the workplace, the most common way to fill the blank is “a performance review”. It’s sad to say, but when I’m getting to know a new client, this statement comes up frequently. And disappointingly, the higher up in the organization, the more frequent the complaint. In fact, CEOs are the number one offenders.
So why is this the case? I hear similar comments from leaders I’ve worked with directly:
“I gave the increase, but I never got around to writing the review. He got the money, so why should he care?”
“I got so busy with the budget, sales plan and year-end, I just didn’t get to it.”
“I give feedback all the time. She knows what I think about her performance.”
Based on the feedback I get from employees, I can tell you they do care. Additionally, if they are managers themselves and go through the work of getting their own reviews done, it’s doubly frustrating to have the person at the top not holding him or herself accountable. Getting a merit increase is important too, but if it’s not tied to performance feedback, the recipient is in the dark about how the amount was determined.
“Boss, I really do care about getting a review and every year you avoid giving me one is sign that you don’t care about me or my performance.”
Reviews do tend to come at a difficult time of year. For many companies, closing the books, setting sales plans for the year and finalizing budgets all coalesce in December and January. Throw in a couple of holidays, and it’s no wonder reviews don’t get done!
I admit, the thought of writing reviews on top of all the other stuff you have to get done is daunting, but you’re probably spending more time worrying about it than it would actually take to do the task itself. Set aside an hour or two a day of uninterrupted time to do just one review. You’ll find it’s not as difficult as you think.
Finally, you don’t bother with a review because your direct reports know exactly what you think. You tell them all the time. Even if you do give frequent feedback, it’s probably not as specific or meaningful as you think. “Nice job, Chuck” is not performance feedback. It’s a compliment. Showing your employees that you took the time to think through what they did and how they did it is just as important as what you say. Additionally, it’s human nature to want it on the record. Compliments are nice, but a report card can be hung on the bulletin board of your heart.
It should only take you an hour or two to write a review. Get to it!