July 8, 2009
When I was a new manager, and one who avoided conflict like a cliché, I had a very hard time telling people when some aspect of their performance was poor. So I'd delay and delay until the annual review, and then disgorge all the problems at once to the unsuspecting reviewee. Needless to say, the conversations did not go well.
Since our fiscal year ended June 30, it's once again time for formal annual performance evaluations here . A couple of months ago the managers gathered together for some training on doing employee reviews. One of the good reminders was, "No one should hear anything at their annual review for the first time." The point is not so much about how to do an annual review as it is about how supervisors should be interacting with employees all through the year.
One exception to the "no surprises" rule: sometimes a problem surfaces just before an annual review. This can happen, for example, if you are conducting a 360 review in which you survey the employee's supervisees, peers within and outside the department, and perhaps key customers or suppliers outside the organization about the employee's performance. If something new does come up, it is legitimate to raise it in the review in a preliminary way, though not in a way that would affect final performance appraisal or recommendations for promotion or salary adjustment.
As was the case for one new supervisor here, perhaps the best evaluation you can receive from your employees about their annual review is: "No surprises here."