Several organizations have made headlines recently with the announcement that they are doing away with annual performance reviews and are using alternative strategies to evaluate performance. But the jury is still out on whether their alternative strategies will be effective.
Be cautious about doing away with your current performance review approach. When aligned with your organization’s strategic objectives and executed well, annual performance reviews can still be effective tools for providing feedback, celebrating accomplishments, evaluating productivity, and defining goals.
Performance reviews can take a significant amount of time to complete. Here are some tips for increasing the return on your investment this year.
Remove obstacles to getting them done.
Identify and gather all the components you need to complete your part of the review. You might need:
- Reports on the metrics you use for evaluation. Managers might need to request reports on the number of solicitations, visits, and dollars raised for major gift officers, for example. Staff may need to prepare their own reports or list of goals and results.
- The previous year’s completed review form or similar documentation that identifies the goals worked on throughout the year.
- Input from other managers or colleagues.
Protect your time!
- Schedule time to do any thinking, writing, and completion of documents you will use in your review meeting—treat this process as an appointment on your calendar, and you’ll be less likely to push it off in favor of other tasks that are, shall we say, more fun?
- Consider doing this preparation offsite, or turn off your phone/email, so you won’t be interrupted.
Avoid errors that make reviews inaccurate and unhelpful.
- Recency errors, occur when managers over-rely on an employee’s most recent behavior or performance. A strong push to meet year-end numbers shouldn’t discount a year of mediocre performance, just as solid productivity throughout the year shouldn’t be discounted by lower productivity at the end of the year.
- First impression errors, occur when managers rely too much on their initial impressions of an employee’s performance.
- Halo/horns effects, occur when employees are highly competent or incompetent in one area, and managers rate them with corresponding high or low competence in all areas.
Have a sound basis for evaluation.
Without metrics that reflect your organization’s goals, and a process for recording results throughout the year, you’ll probably be frustrated by a lack of relevant information from which to draw when evaluating your staff or yourself. So, if you haven’t already done so:
- Define measurable objectives for each of your staff at the beginning of the year, and make sure the objectives stem from your organization’s mission and goals.
- Ensure your goals and metrics underscore the performance and values you want your employees to exhibit. With regard to major gift fundraising results, our BWF Insight team found programs focusing primarily on visits were often met with resistance taking on new prospects into their portfolios. Furthermore, organizations with a primary focus on funds raised were more likely to see prospect hoarding. Programs with primary emphasis on the number of appropriate level solicitations, however, were linked to better overall activities, encouraging gift officers to engage more prospects, and build more effective and timely cultivation strategies.
- Conduct short reviews regularly throughout the year, and use a simple document to track progress towards measurable goals and objectives. Your annual performance review will then be the culmination of the previous “mini-reviews” and allow you to focus more on discussing goals, strategies, and support needed to reach those goals.
BWF’s team of consultants have walked in your shoes as former vice-presidents, directors, and staff. With years of experience motivating, training, and evaluating development and advancement teams, we can help you design an effective performance management program that will help drive the results you seek in 2017 and beyond. Drop us a line today we’d love to help!
BWF Client Advisory originally published January 18, 2017
Copyright© 2017 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.