Evan Hackel

By Evan Hackel

Why Job Reviews Are Still Critical . . . But Be Sure to Do them Right!

Why Job Reviews Are Still Critical . . . But Be Sure to Do them Right! 150 150 Evan Hackel

It is very important for you to assure that the people in your organization understand your expectations and your opinions about how they are doing. The most effective way to communicate that information is to conduct regular reviews throughout your organization.

I do not have firm data to back this up, but I believe that regular reviews are strictly used in Fortune 500 businesses – the kind of organizations that have big HR departments – while reviews are not regularly given in smaller companies.

How are you doing in this regard? If you are not using regular reviews, you could be causing more problems with your team members than you realize. Why? One reason is that, in my opinion, people tend to believe the worst, not the best, if they are kept in the dark about your evaluation of them.

Two ways to conduct reviews . . .

Two-part reviews, in which the manager and the employee each fill out a review form, then meet to compare and discuss their comments. I have observed that when the people who will be reviewed write down self-evaluations ahead of the review session, they do not hesitate to be critical of themselves. They tend to bring up areas that you as a manager wanted to talk about, and when you then explore those topics, your review is less harsh; After all, you are exploring topics that the employees brought up themselves.

360° reviews, in which each employee is reviewed not only him or herself and a supervisor, but by a group of people with whom he or she interacts on the job. My preferred way of conducting these reviews is to have people submit their evaluations of the team member who will be reviewed, then to sort the comments into categories on one master form. That prevents the employee under evaluation from trying to guess the identity of his or her evaluators. And 360° reviews can be very effective. If an employee sees that a number of people are focusing on an area that needs improvement, those comments will be more credible than those that came from one supervisor.

Some insights from a sample 360° review . . .

To show you how revealing and motivating a 360° review can be, I would like to share some of the comments that I have gotten about my own strengths and areas for improvement when I was the subject of one of them.

“As a leader, Evan is first-rate. He is respectful of people and solicits opinions. He also does a good job of keeping management in the loop on high-level strategic thinking and direction.”

“Evan is a strong leader with a vision. He manages different people differently according to their personalities and needs. He is very responsive to staff and to members. He is very good about communicating and sharing what’s going on with staff and members. He is a very hands-on manager. He is also a very inclusive manager and one who wants to get both staff and membership more involved (e.g. many councils, monthly staff meetings).”

“Evan wants to drive the car and will not take a back seat to anyone. He can be very demanding and can dominate a meeting when he feels he is right. Because he has the confidence and the experience of running a large division, he has earned the respect and the right to take control when he feels the company is straying. He has a great ability to stay on topic and to keep others focused. He is learning how to ask more questions to let others get to the right answers instead of trying to manipulate issues toward what he feels is the right path. If I were going to war, I would want Evan as a General.”

“Spend more time communicating upfront. This was done very well with the five-year plan, but it could be extended further. Also, I believe Evan is one of the most compassionate leaders that I have met, but this does not always come across with members and some staff members. It would be helpful if he would take the time to explain things with a little more clarity.”

So as you can see, 360° reviews communicate a depth of information that can be eye-opening. I know that I have used comments like those to discover areas where I need to devote attention to my own interpersonal and management development. I believe that these reviews can energize your staff members too, and encourage the process of consistent improvement.

Add a plan to take reviews one step further . . .

Reviews are more than scorecards. They provide an opportunity to build a plan with each employee. What are the key things that this person should be doing in the next year, for example? What is he or she doing well that can be built upon? What is a weakness to address in the next 12 months? When you agree together on such goals, set check-in points, and incorporate them in a training and growth plan, you can turn regular reviews from demotivating routines into exciting action plans for learning and growth.