More often than not, workplace dysfunction is a sneaky and unpredictable thing. Your boss flips out without warning simply because your report is an hour late. Your co-worker smiles at you in the break room only to be secretly plotting to get you fired the first chance they get. However, there is one time of year that dysfunction can be anticipated – performance review time. This season is particularly ripe with dysfunction, headaches, heartbreaks and generally heightened levels of anxiety and stress. Think of it as that season later in life when we are all more likely to get diagnosed with a major illness. We all know it’s coming and we know there are things we can do to prevent it. But do we? I can speak for myself and say that that season may be sooner than later if I don’t get my act together.
Diagnosing Causes of Performance Review Dysfunction
There are some common causes of dysfunctional performance reviews. Here are some of the most dangerous dark clouds that hover over the performance review process, guaranteeing unhealthy outcomes:
Avoiding the dysfunctions associated with performance reviews are the equivalent of brushing / flossing daily and going to the dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups. You need to stay on top of it. Let’s take a step back. Imagine if you didn’t brush or floss (at all… not even one time) and didn’t go to the dentist for a whole year. When you finally did show up at the dentist’s office after 12 months of no contact and negligence, I doubt that would be a pleasant and predictable experience (not to mention the bad breath).
Here are some ways we can ensure a healthy performance review conversation. Thanks to my good friend Stacie Hagan, Chief People Officer at Earthlink for the following list on how to conduct performance reviews (the concepts work for both managers and employees):
The key is regular feedback, updates, check-ins and check-ups. One company that I recently discovered that’s fighting this dysfunction head-on is Small Improvements. They’ve created an innovative platform that does a fantastic job integrating continuous and 360 degree feedback, objectives management and performance reviews in a way that is seamless, ongoing, non-judgmental and allows for EVERYONE to participate (you can hop online and give your co-worker praise that will be part of his / her performance review months later). Kudos to them for trying to keep our performance conversations at work healthy, productive and dysfunction free. To learn more about Small Improvements and what they are up to, go here.
Brush and Floss Daily
So, if you want to have an uneventful, productive and healthy performance review, whether you are the boss or the employee, treat it just like going to the dentist. Brush and floss daily (provide regular feedback) and have frequent “check-ups” (at least twice a year but shoot for quarterly if possible) and you’ll be cavity free. Avoid brushing / flossing and wait until the end of the year for the conversation, and pain is practically guaranteed. Not to mention, the breath… Yuck.