Performance review – love it or hate it?
An opportunity to engage your people?
Sadly, performance reviews are often the source of grief for employees and managers alike, focusing on missed targets and shortcomings. If an employee anticipates an adversarial review, they’re going to waste a disproportionate amount of time preparing their defence and gathering supporting evidence. Stress and negativity trigger the freeze, fight, flight response, releasing cortisol and adrenaline which shuts down our ability to think clearly and relate positively to others.
If the review does go badly a demoralised employee can spend days recovering from the negative effects – clearly undesirable in any workplace, putting the brakes on organisational growth and learning.
Friend not foe
There is another way. A strengths-based approach to performance reviews focuses on successes, learnings and things to do differently next time. This triggers the brains reward circuitry, unleashing insight, innovation and interpersonal ability. Businesses that adopt this approach are generally fulfilling places to work where individuals grow and the organisation prospers.
The naysayers amongst you may be wondering ‘what if the employee has under performed and needs to be pulled up’. The truth is that we are all our own worst critics and your criticism will only rub salt into the wound. Recent research by the Neuroleadership Institute shows that 17 times out of 20, negative feedback (even when positively intentioned) does more harm than good as employees attempt to justify themselves, make excuses and blame others. All this causes resentment on both sides and undermines performance still further.
Focus on what's been achieved and the potential of the employee (rather than criticising their current performance)
Solutions not problems
Focusing on problems and underachievement only embeds the behaviours you are trying to change, thereby having the opposite effect than you intend. In contrast, a solution-focused approach looks at what has been achieved and focuses on the potential of the employee (rather than criticising their current performance). It is progressive and forward looking, which is energising for all involved and is important for developing new brain networks that encourage personal insight and change, and feed the brain’s reward circuits.