Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Observing performance trends over time, part of Performance Review Foundations.
The number one reason performance reviews are often so difficult for managers, is because they think of the review as a one-time event. That's a major problem. That belief reinforces your desire to not think about the review process unless it's formally time to do so. In contrast, the most successful managers are pro-active and find their own way to continuously monitor each team member. This is a great hedge against the many cognitive biases that have been identified that pose a challenge to clear and accurate thought, when it's time to evaluate someone.
Here are a few of the most dangerous that you'll want to be aware of. The first is simply poor memory. To be blunt, human memory is terrible. The more busy we are and the more successful we are, the more bits of data there are floating around in our brains. We try to organize it, but recalling things becomes difficult rapidly as time moves on. Next there are a few very specific types of memory biases that hurt our recall ability. The most common are primacy and recency effects. Imagine watching a presentation.
The primacy bias suggests that information delivered early in the presentation, will stick in your memory better than information presented later. The recency bias tells us that the most recent information presented will stand out in your memory better than earlier information. In essence, the beginning and the ending of the presentation are remembered much better. The same effect happens for performance reviews. Some earlier events and behaviors stick out in your mind a little more. And very recent events that happened only days or weeks ago, Will disproportionately stick out as well.
You'll also want to be on the lookout for halo effects. The halo effect suggests that how you think about one very specific aspect of a person, is strongly influenced by your overall impression of them. For example liking, or how much you like or dislike someone, can have a strong effect on how you evaluate different aspects of a person's performance. The more strongly you like or dislike someone, the more difficult it becomes to see reality clearly. Let me give you a very simple but effective way that these types of cognitive traps don't cause you unnecessary trouble.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to immediately start using a performance diary. The performance diary can be an actual notebook, a computer file, or both, it functions as an ongoing repository for your observations about your team members. You should use it several times a week, or ideally for three or four minutes everyday. In the performance diary, you want to record the date, someone's name, and your clear short observation. One entry is a data point.
The goal is to arrive at the performance evaluation later with many quality data points. So that your evaluation can be as informed as possible. You're not waxing philosophical about who they are, what makes them tick, and what developmental activities they might need. That comes later. Right now, you're simply collecting incidents you observe. It only takes a couple of seconds to add an entry. For example, you might write this. March 21, Jason Fienstein, big presentation with the leadership team.
He was good, not great. Full of information but lacked organization and effective delivery. Or maybe this, July 12 Lyndsey Miller, finished the operation analysis today ahead of schedule again. And the work is clear and addresses exactly the issues I needed addressed. Your goal is to start every quarter by taking two to three hours to be alone with your performance diary. Start by reviewing the most common memory biases we discussed, because the more conscious you are about them, the less likely you are to fall prey to them.
Next pick a member of the team. If you've been following my advice, you will have been recording critical incidents as they happen. Begin then by writing down just a few sentences summarizing the trend in that person's performance. Are they slipping a little, or worse, declining into unacceptable territory? Maybe they are improving, or maybe they are merely maintaining their performance whether that performance is above average, average or below average. Don't look back at the recent critical incidents.
Just write a few sentences for that person. When you're done, then go back and look at the recent entries you've made. The more you do this, the more your summary about their trend will reflect the data, not some odd memory bias. This type of activity provides great training for your brain that will benefit you when it's time to do the employee evaluations. The employee review can be stressful for everyone involved. Do your best to make it data driven and stress free by using your performance diary regularly.
Don't allow memory, or liking issues to cloud your judgement. Whether its affirmative feedback, or difficult feedback, your employee deserves to be evaluated based on the work they've done.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The information contained in the following course is provided with the viewer's understanding that the course should not be used as a substitute for consulting a human resource professional at your company for specific guidance. Lynda.com and LinkedIn expressly disclaim liability for any damages, loss, or risk, incurred as a direct or indirect consequence, from the use and application of any content herein.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Understanding the performance cycle
- Setting performance goals
- Collecting performance data and feedback
- Writing the review
- Discussing performance with an employee
- Using a performance improvement plan (PIP)<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.