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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Performance Review Mistakes to Avoid

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! End-of-year reviews are an excellent opportunity to give and receive feedback, so leaders must take them seriously and utilize them to their fullest potential. In today's podcast, we're talking about the mistakes you should avoid when conducting year-end reviews and how to use them to push your company forward in the coming year.


1. Recency Bias

Recency Bias is a psychological term that helps explain why it is easy to focus on the most recent event rather than the sum of the last year's events. Judging your employee by their most recent failure is a guaranteed way to put them on the defensive and cause them to disengage from their role. Keep a file of each employee's positive and negative actions throughout the year to ensure you are looking at their performance holistically.


Q: Have you ever been a victim of recency bias? What happened? How did your leader respond? How did their response impact your ambition and engagement?


2. The Surprise Attack

Most employees see performance reviews as judgment day. This is especially true when their manager has a habit of giving feedback for the first time in a year-end review. If you use your employee's end-of-year review as your opportunity to provide feedback you have been thinking about all year, you will be seen as insecure and unwilling to have tough conversations. Keeping communication open during the year and frequently providing feedback will help the performance review become a healthy deposit instead of a sneak attack.


Q: Describe your current relationship with your boss. Do you meet regularly or once or twice a year? How does the frequency of your meetings affect your confidence and performance? As an employee, what is your ideal amount of feedback from your boss? As a leader, how often would you like to give feedback or meet regularly with your employees? Does anything keep you from meeting that goal? Describe your answer.


3. Choose your words wisely

Your words matter! Feedback should be clear and actionable. Make sure your comments can't be misinterpreted and that they give your direct report a clear path forward. For example, instead of accusing your employee of participating in negative behavior, note the behavior that is the root cause and show them how they can modify their approach and improve their position on the team.

Instead, give specific feedback that they can use that will help them modify their approach and improve their position on the team.


Q: Have you ever experienced miscommunication in the workplace? How was it resolved? What was the long-term impact? If you could do it again, what would you do differently?


4. You talk too much

Performance evaluations work best as conversations, not monologues. If the employee's viewpoint isn't welcomed, you will miss a prime opportunity to gain insight into the factors behind their performance (good or bad). You may also remain unaware of any personal problems and broader issues within your organization. Involve your team by letting them self-evaluate their performance and comment on feedback. When you do, your reviews will help you and your employees learn from the past and set a course to move forward.


Q: Why do you think leaders have trouble asking for feedback or giving their direct reports a chance to talk during their performance review? What can you do to overcome those barriers as a leader?


Application Activities:

  1. If you have not already, set up additional reviews with your team to touch base and ensure that they are receiving feedback promptly. Ideally, a weekly one-on-one appointment is good for discussing recent events, while a quarterly review will help your team see how you view their work so far that year.

  2. Sometimes it can be hard to pause and allow your direct report to give feedback when moving through a list of comments or following a structure from HR. In your notes, write down at least one question you want to ask during each section of the review. Encourage your employee to speak up and answer every question. Many employees dread performance reviews, so giving them a space to speak may feel awkward to them. Don't rush them as they answer. Give them time and prove that you really care about their response.

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