Business managers nationwide utilize annual performance reviews as a central element in their people-management programs. This familiar practice operates under the belief that informing employees of their standing will motivate them to improve. However, this belief is debatable. Research has indicated that both employers and employees agree that annual performance meetings fail to meet their anticipated effectiveness. Focusing on past performance often fails to engage employees and instead leaves them disheartened and overwhelmed by a recital of past-year shortcomings, missteps, and missed opportunities. Nevertheless, the practice persists.

Instead of focusing on performance

A more effective approach to engaging your employees could revolve around understanding what is important to them. People tend to act on their own motivations rather than someone else’s. If employees lack a personal desire to achieve something, it is unlikely to expect significant personal effort, commitment, or perseverance. There must be a better way.

To make these reviews more motivational

It is crucial to inquire about the recipients’ aspirations and career paths, preferences and dislikes, and the opportunities within the firm’s future. By understanding their ambitions, leaders can pledge to support their pursuit of these goals and advocate for their success.

Managers may ask a series of questions that focus on what matters most to their staff. For example, they could ask, “What part of your work do you really like?” Initially, there might be minimal substantive response, as most have never been asked such a direct question. While this question may not immediately serve as the catalyst for motivation that some company leaders hope for, it does communicate the company’s commitment to their career goals. With repeated inquiries, individuals will begin to contemplate and articulate their aspirations.

Employers can further pose additional questions to refine their thinking, such as:

  • What energizes you?
  • Are you satisfied with the opportunities to do tasks you truly enjoy?
    In addition, when employers inquire, “What part of your work do you dislike?”, follow-up questions might include:
  • What reduces your enthusiasm?
  • To what extent is this characteristic of your work?

By shifting the focus from performance assessment to career development, individuals are more likely to exert renewed effort toward success because it aligns with their own aspirations.

Make performance reviews more effective – Journal of Accountancy

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