Writing about the ills of the performance review is like listening to people complain about how bad and how annoying “The Real Housewives” are but having them admit they can’t take their eyes off the set. Performance reviews are as equally annoying but they usually lack any real drama. And yet, we continue to use them, we continue to talk about them, write about them and train managers on how to hold them.
If you work for a Fortune 1000 company, you’re probably still using the traditional performance review. That means its about to be show time! First major talk of the year is right around the corner. The mid-year review. Are you ready for it? If you’re experience is anything like mine has been over the years, your boss is dreading the conversation. But hey, HR says he has to check that box, so that box will be checked, no matter the dread.
In honor of the mid-year review here are some things you can expect to hear as an employee:
1. You’re average
2. You’re meeting expectations
3. You’re right in the middle of the pack
4. You really did great on that one project, but man that other one was an awful failure
Don’t expect much else. Unless you’re really underperforming, most managers are going to hedge their bets. There’s no way they’re going to tell you that you’re exceeding expectations. Too many things can happen in the second half of the year. They’d rather not have to tell you that you only met expectations when the year ends. It’s especially tough when you’ve done great in the second half, but they lost in the calibration battle and weren’t vocal enough to get you into the upper 20%. We all have our favorites. Don’t be naive enough to think that doesn’t play out in the calibration room. They’re senior leaders, not magicians. Human emotions really do show up there.
If you’re a manager reading this, do everyone a favor and tell your employees like it is. Be transparent; tell them what’s ahead, what you know and how they’re really doing. If your employees are underperforming, tell them. If they’re doing great, let it be known. Most importantly, tell them the truth and do it frequently. Don’t make this opportunity to connect with your people be about just checking the HR box.