Many organizations manage performance on a calendar year plan, so this is the time of year when performance reviews occur. Your leaders, managers, and employees need regular performance feedback! Reviews let staff know where they stand on goal accomplishment, contribution, and team work.

Too often, reviews aren’t done well — or even done at all. At a recent keynote event I asked how many attendees have at least an annual review by their boss – more than half said they did NOT. Without regular feedback and insights on how they are perceived by their boss, peers, and customers, employees are left to wonder “who cares about what I do around here?”

Do your employees a favor: provide them with honest feedback, at least once per year, on their accomplishments, missed commitments, opportunities for development . . . AND on their demonstration of the organization’s desired valued behaviors.

From Performance Reviews to Contribution Reviews

With our culture change clients, we coach them to change “performance reviews” to “contribution reviews.” Contribution reviews include feedback to team leaders and member about the extent to which they are seen to demonstrate desired valued behaviors, as well as about their performance for the time period in question.

Note that it doesn’t matter what you call these reviews, so long as they include BOTH performance appraisal and assessment of values contributions.

In order for contribution reviews to be effective conversations, expectations must be clear for performance and for values. Most of our clients clarify performance expectations well in the planning process. Some clients use SMART goals, which ensure performance expectations meet the SMART criteria (specific and measurable, motivating, attainable, relevant, trackable and time-bound).

Values clarity is much rarer – and Blanchard’s culture change experts have learned how to help clients make values measurable. If you haven’t already, please check out my post on “Making Your Company Values Measurable” for more details on this vital step.

Translating desired valued behaviors into effective measures as part of evaluating contribution takes a bit of effort, yet it will help clarify the kind of corporate citizenship you want every organization member to demonstrate, day in and day out.

Creating Values Standards with Actionable Feedback

In order to be actionable by the receiver, values feedback must be provided in the form of standards: exceeds standard, meets standard, and needs improvement. Let’s take an example. One client defined a desired value, alacrity, as “our enthusiastic eagerness to get the right things done quickly. We honor the pace of business today and get things done promptly and efficiently. As active risk takers, we choose action over inaction. We cooperate to create open systems and communications. We learn and adapt on a daily basis, striving for excellence, without letting the pursuit of perfection slow us down.” Behaviors for this value were refined to fit the standards rating for annual reviews in this way:

Exceeds Standard
1) Holds self and others accountable to high standards.
2) Often exceeds and consistently meets deadlines committed to.
3) Assists team members with their projects regularly.

Meets Standard
1) Meets minimum standards for work performance.
2) Consistently meets deadlines committed to.
3) Assists team members with their projects when able.

Needs Improvement
1) Rarely exceeds standard for work performance.
2) Misses deadlines on a regular basis.
3) Rarely seen assisting team members with their projects.

Like-numbered items are ranked either “exceeds, meets, or needs improvement.” A player might deserve an “exceeds” ranking on item one but a “meets” ranking on items two & three. To ensure an accurate assessment of valued behaviors, clients gather perceptions from bosses, peers, and even customers in a custom values survey, typically administered twice each year. Data from respondents is utilized to gauge values demonstration in their contribution reviews.

If your organization does annual reviews for every staff member, that’s good. If annual reviews just focus on performance, you’re missing out on a key differentiator in today’s global economy: values alignment.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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