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Formalizing Your Review Process

Career Path
Feedback
Handling Promotion

1 March, 2019

Anthony Bull provides advice on how to put a more formal performance review process in place for small but growing organizations.

Problem

Mid-sized-to-Enterprise-class organizations have the luxury of delegating responsibilities of the performance review process to specified teams such as the HR department. However, with smaller, flatter organizations, the review process tends to be more casual. Though this loose method may work in the beginning, as your organization grows, you will need to think about putting a process for substantial and fair performance reviews in place. Here are a few recommendations to help you with this procedure.

Actions Taken

  • Clearly define roles and expectations. As your organization grows you will need to start thinking about putting in place a process to review and assess your direct reports. This includes setting guidelines and managing expectations. Articulate expectations, responsibilities, and goals so that you are ready for promotions when the time comes.
  • Give feedback more often. I have worked in a lot of companies that have had annual performance reviews and I did not like them. I cannot think of one company that I worked in that had an annual performance review that was actually beneficial to me as an employee. It was more advantageous to have sporadic feedback then all in one lump sum.
  • Start with a basic tool: the spreadsheet. Come up with a simple sheet with people's names, feedback and the date that it was given, and notes on the meeting. It is something that is manageable for small and large teams, although it doesn't give much visibility.
  • Consider a more-advanced performance management tool. Find a tool with a performance review feature, a development plan, and OKRs.

Lessons Learned

  • Keep performance reviews lightweight. With a small team and a small organization, create a process that is simple and specific for your company. Make it your own.
  • Funnel up performance information. If you have Leads, set up a process for receiving feedback about their direct reports. This way you are well-informed about all team members.
  • Be transparent around expectations. Managing expectations will eliminate problems for yourself down the line. Be transparent about what you are expecting of people now and for future promotions.

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