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Delivering an Effective Performance Review

Impact
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Performance

15 July, 2021

Florian Marin, Senior Software Engineer at Teads.tv, shares his secret ways of reducing anxiety for team members while conducting a performance review.

Problem

All great managers communicate with their reports, and so, every quarter, we carried out a performance review of the team. The direct reports would have to answer some of the following questions: Did they match the expectations that we had set for the quarter? Were they interested in improving their skills in different areas, technical, soft skills and how company wide is their impact? What were their accomplishments in the quarter that they were most proud of?

I believe that it was essential to assess everyone through a performance review because that was the best way for me to give and receive constructive feedback formally. It would also help me provide them with a perspective about the next quarter that was ahead of us.

Undoubtedly, it was the best way to find out how I could help them grow in their career, too. However, some employees dislike performance reviews and seem very unhappy because they think they are better than the evaluations. How could managers possibly handle that?

Actions taken

Usually, I would take about a whole week to evaluate each and every person’s performance carefully. I would write down every detail because the evaluation determined several vital things, such as their salary raise. We had a metric system with the different subjects, skills and levels in it, where they would auto evaluate themselves. After that, I would also assess them only to compare the results in the end. Very dedicatedly, we would reach the results and explain why we had chosen to rank the person in such a way.

We would then discuss the improvement aspects. Most of them were super happy with this process as it would help them get clear guidelines and expectations from me. Besides, the evaluations were compared with other managers of other teams. Why? Simply put, it was to create a balance between each manager and the teams. On a different level, we also wanted to check how we could have done something differently than we actually did.

I would use examples to explain how they had worked on a topic and how it could have been better. For instance, if an employee were looking forward to achieving a goal, I would certainly guide them by saying how they might have communicated better or led it in a different way. Of course, it was a two-way street that helped appreciate the honest feedback and a comfort zone where no one would feel scared or pressured to talk about something.

In some cases, I would also create a checklist to make it crystal clear to them. One thing for sure was that it was not easy for anyone to move forward. If someone wanted to move fast in the levels, even a checklist could not help them; they might have to undergo training or gather some more experience in their role.

Lessons learned

  • The more precise the career matrix will be, the more difficult it would be to manage expectations. As the manager, make sure that the checklist is concise and clear. Do not move forward talking about the following topic unless you flush out the details from your teammate about one topic.
  • Never rush through the performance review process. Take all the time you need to prepare and come up with cases and examples that will help your team members understand where you might be coming from.
  • Understand that the performance review with managers is critical, so never skip it or be careless about it. This will give you a clear idea of how a person might positively or negatively impact the team and the company.
  • Most importantly, be transparent in your communication. Send the right message while understanding that everyone gets what you are trying to say.

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