Small Business Employers Might Need to Rethink How They Conduct Performance Reviews of Their Employees
Do employers need to rethink how they conduct their performance reviews of their employees? Apparently, yes. In a recent article by Inc.com “Gallup Experts Say There’s a Simple Way to Improve Employee Performance Most Bosses Do the Opposite It’s time to rethink the performance review” the author opines that employees need more praise than criticism from their bosses. She writes “while the boss’s brain is wired to focus on the negative, the employee’s brain is wired to crave approval and praise.”
It is not always easy to get the right balance between criticism and praise. It is also not easy to give approval and praise to an employee who is clearly a $$ck up. From the get-go, the employer needs to have the right hiring strategy to avoid having too many situations like that. That is, the job should fit the employee, not the other way around. Apparently, a part of the reason that some employees perform badly, or at less than the desired level of productivity, is that they were not suited to the jobs they have in the first place; so bad performance reviews are unfair on a certain level, if the boss should have known better than to hire the individual for that particular to begin with.
It is the boss that makes the hiring decision and if the boss gets that wrong, it is the boss who will end up using a lot of time trying to fit the wrong job to the wrong employee and then wondering why the employee’s performance is not up to par. Bosses can avoid this quagmire by making the right hiring decisions in the first place.
That said, with regard to performance reviews, the conventional wisdom seems to be that if you tell the employee what they are doing wrong, and tell them how to improve, that the employee will automatically improve. But this is not necessarily the case, according the Inc article cited above. It seems that a better way to improve performance is to focus much more time on what the employee does right; and also, on putting the right employee in the right job to begin with.
It helps a lot to assess the employee’s personal view on what they are good at and what they think they bring to the company, and how they think they can improve in the future, rather than telling the employee all the things they did wrong, or the things you believe they could improve on.
Here are some sample questions you can ask your employees to improve their job performance according to surveysparrow.com:
- What skills do you have that you believe we could use more effectively?
This seems like a great question because it gives the employee a chance to tell you what they can do; and sometimes, this can be surprising because not all your employees’ skills are necessarily readily apparent. Indeed, it is quite possible that the employee has many hidden skills that can be of use to the organization, but which may not be a part of his or her job description. In that case, the employee may be under-utilized. At the same time, the employee may seem like an “underperforming” worker, and thus, receives a negative performance review, all because his or her best skills are not being used effectively.
- What are your personal strengths that help you do your job effectively?
This question, once again, helps the employer to evaluate the employees because the employee knows better than his or her boss what their strengths are. For example, he or she may be very good at writing, but her job does not require any writing skills at all; maybe all he or she is doing is working on the phone. Knowing that the employee believes writing to be a strength is information that could be useful for the employer. It could mean a promotion, or a lateral move to another position, especially in a situation where the employee is valued, but is underperforming in the current position.
- What makes you the best fit for your position?
If the employee is asked to make a case for their own suitability for a position, it can help the employee to improve his or her performance. This is because going on the record like this forces the employee to up their game. They want to be “the best” so they will work harder to outpace their competitors. By asking this question, the employer gets the employee’s competitive juices flowing and this can lead to heightened productivity and performance.
- What kind of work comes easiest to you?
Another question to ask the employee in a performance review is “what kind of work comes easiest to you?” This is a fancy way of asking the employee “what are your strengths?” The employer could get an answer like “working remotely.” This may or may not align with what the employer needs for the given position. That is, the type of work that comes “easiest” to the employee may not necessarily align with what the employer needs. The employer is not obliged to fulfill all the employee’s fantasies and demands. But this type of information is helpful in the context of training, promotions, hiring and other ways, and asking this type of questions focuses on the positive rather than on the negative, which in turn can increase rather than decrease the employee’s performance.
This is hardly an exhaustive list of possible questions to ask employees in a performance review meeting. The idea, though, is for employers to think more about the positive, and about finding ways to accentuate the positive attributes, strengths and interests in their employees. Rather than focusing on the employees’ weaknesses in a performance review, the evidence seems to show that the opposite approach is better: focus on the positives and the employees’ strengths and this will increase their performance.