My daughter is a good student – she is diligent, connects the dots and genuinely likes many of her subjects. She, like many people, works harder on those subjects and projects that she likes. And when she has to work on those few subjects that aren’t at the top of her list, well, let’s just say we all suffer along with her.
Recently, she received her mid-term report and all was well except for a fairly significant drop in one subject. We weren’t thrilled with this, but what really magnified the situation is that she had not given us a head’s up on this. So, a bit of a double-whammy.
Now before someone suggests that we were being negligent parents by not already knowing the situation…hold off a bit, I’m going to cover the topic of parental responsibility and young adults in an upcoming post. Just park your judgement for a bit.
I tried to explain to my daughter that she needs to keep us updated on what is happening, how her assignments and tests are doing, and whether she feels she might need help. That way, if we know she has been struggling, the mark on the report will reflect what we already know.
Is this not common sense? Is this not a relatively basic concept?
So then, why is it that employees continue to be “blind-sided” in their reviews. The year goes by with smiles and pats on the back, with the occasional suggestion given and then the employee sits down in the performance review only to hear that things are just not where they should be. Worse is when this message in embedded in paragraphs of mixed messages.
Why would you do this to your employee? Why would you do this to yourself?
I can guess. Facing up to a difficult conversation and admitting that something needs to be done can be difficult and take a lot of energy.
But you know what else is difficult and involves a lot of energy? Sitting with HR after the employee complains. Having to do multiple follow-up meetings with the employee, and (please help me) pulling together all the documentation and work plans that should have been done way back when.
So, please – help yourself and step away from the formal structure of performance reviews – follow-up with your employees regularly and deal with issues when they come up. Don’t water down the message to the point that employee doesn’t even realize what you are trying to say. If you tell them that they are “a good solid player and that things are “fine” – then they are not likely going to understand that what you meant was: “I want you to put more effort in and that you are barely meeting expectations. Oh, and while I am at it these are the expectations…”.
Honestly, if it isn’t already, a manager’s ability to conduct good performance reviews throughout the year, as well as at year’s end, should be something that they are evaluated on.
Maybe I’ll suggest we add that in.
Consider this your head’s up.