This time of year, many of you are performing the annual ritual of performance reviews. For me, I choose to lead by being clear, objective, and fair, and this is especially true when providing performance reviews. Rather than dreading this experience, I view it as an opportunity to develop mutual understanding and better my communication with my direct reports.
Leaders have an opportunity at the beginning of the year to meet with their team members individually to outline upcoming initiatives and establish personal and professional goals relating to the overall company objectives. And it probably doesn’t surprise you to find out that the Emergenetics endorses a unique approach to performance reviews. Rather than being systematic, the process is designed to reflect and leverage the Profile strengths of managers and direct reports. As a third-third Expressive and Assertive, I have a direct approach to providing feedback, and my Red/Social preference reflects a genuine desire to provide feedback in a way that builds trust, is focused on fairness, and the greater good of the individual and our company. When I lead from my own Profile, what comes naturally to me, it just feels right.
I also understand the need to tailor my performance review to the individual I am reviewing. For example, if I’m reviewing an individual who is in the First-Third of Expressiveness, I know that I need to tone down my voice and speak softer. I need to also limit my hand gestures and give that individual space to think and to speak. Furthermore, if this individual has a preference for Structural thinking, I will want to ensure that I have written materials that are orderly and listed (preferably in bullet points) to bring an added level of clarity to the meeting. This strategy ensures that I’m being true to myself, while honoring the preferred method of the individual I’m reviewing and maximizing the meeting’s productivity.
During these meetings, we also discuss our annual company and department objectives and ask each person to identify how he/she is going to contribute to the meeting these objectives. This is the basis for our performance review- and it reverses the traditional roles of performance feedback by encouraging individuals to contribute to the process. Team members appreciate getting to have a say in what they’re expected to accomplish throughout the year and how their success will be measured. It is a true collaboration between the manager and his/her direct reports.
We find that this collaborative approach to performance reviews brings a momentum that endures throughout the entire year and carries over into all aspects of the business. Leaders can create more authentic trust by giving voice to the desires and concerns of their team rather than having the leader’s vision imposed upon them. When everyone is aligned with the purpose of the company, an energy and power exists that takes performance to amazing levels of success.
Author Daniel Pink, in To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others, echoes this idea, stating that purpose is the fuel that drives motivation, and the reason for workers to achieve goals. I look to build purpose in order to spur high performance and fulfillment.
If I could offer any advice to other leaders on providing performance feedback, it’s this- it’s all about staying true to your Profile while honoring the person that you’re working with. I get truly excited this time of year because I have the chance to connect with my team, calibrate our focus, and hear about all of the amazing things that the people in my company plan to achieve in the coming year.