Successful Performance Reviews

6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees

Employee performance reviews are often awkward and uncomfortable. Feedback, whether positive or critical, can be difficult to deliver or accept. Yet providing feedback to employees is an important way for a company’s leadership to guide the organization. Employees also want feedback; employee engagement increases when employees get more feedback, more frequently; and, they’re less likely to quit.

Tips for Managers

  1. Review expectations. Take a look at the feedback employees received last year, along with their self-appraisals and development plans.
  2. Evaluate performance. Think about how well they’ve done that work. Use your own opinion of work you’ve seen, plus updates from the employee, comments from their coworkers and input from other managers and other departments. Take note of any awards or recognitions the employee received.
  3. Plan for next year. Identify successes as well as opportunities for improvement, and set objectives for the next year. Outline a development plan that will help achieve employee success.
  4. Conduct the review. Set aside enough time for a thorough conversation. Allow the employee to respond and react to your feedback. Make sure the employee agrees with the goals you set for the next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Check in with employees throughout the year to make sure they’re making progress on their development plan. Take the opportunity to offer employee recognition and rewards for improvements and achievements throughout the year.
  6. Consider continuous feedback. A new approach taking root in forward-looking organizations like GE and throughout silicon valley is known as “continuous feedback”. Continuous feedback favors frequent check-ins throughout the year over stressful annual reviews and allows you to identify potential problems and address sources of dissatisfaction or disengagement quickly, so they don’t linger and affect performance.

Tips for Employees

  1. Review expectations. Look over the expectations that were established last year, based on your job description, review and development plan. Review the work you achieved as well as the difficulties experienced along the way; this is important because managers often see only the finished work product and don’t understand the challenges that had to be overcome to produce it.
  2. Evaluate performance. Consider what you did well during the year and where you fell short, as well as what you liked working on and what you didn’t enjoy.
  3. Plan for next year. Consider your long-term career goals and what skills you would like to develop over the next year to help move you along that path.
  4. Participate in the review. Take advantage of this time with your managers. If you disagree with their assessment, share your opinion respectfully. Make sure you agree with the development plan and goals for next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Take action on the development plan, and let your manager know how things are going throughout the year. Treat your manager’s time as a resource that can help you achieve career success.
  6. Embrace and encourage continuous feedback. If your manager and HR department are open to it, encourage and embrace continuous feedback and foster open lines of communication between you and your manager all throughout the year.

Because reviews feel uncomfortable, both managers and employees often simply hurry through them, just to get them over with. Taking that approach technically meets corporate requirements to conduct a review, but it loses all the benefits. When managers and employees take time to prepare before the review, have an open and honest discussion, and then use the feedback to make real changes, performance reviews become a key factor in increasing employee motivation and driving employee and business success.

Learn More Red Button

 

 

 

manager and employee recognition

Managers don’t believe in recognition? How to shift the mentality

Employee recognition is foundational in building your company’s long-term success. Employees who feel genuinely appreciated stay more engaged in their work because they understand the value that they bring to their team and the organization. This greater level of engagement will, in turn, stimulate higher productivity, a more pleasant workplace climate and much lower staff turnover rates. All these benefits translate into cost-effectiveness and a stronger bottom line for your business.

Team leaders are essential to your recognition program

In some cases, you may have team leaders who developed their management style before the importance of workplace recognition was widely understood. They may not feel that formal appreciation is relevant to the workplace, and may figure that receiving a regular paycheck is as much recognition as any worker needs. Here are three tips for how HR (and/or other leaders) can bring these managers on board and help them see the bottom-line value of giving positive feedback:

  1. Take recognition to a higher level

Effective recognition for good performance is not a concept limited to lower-level or line workers. As Firebrand founder and CEO Jeremy Goldman writes, “What do your boss, colleagues, and office janitor have in common? All of them want to feel appreciated.” By recognizing and rewarding team leaders for increasing the number of formal appreciations they offer their direct reports, you can jump-start positive change throughout all levels of your organization.

  1. Hold an offsite retreat

This may initially be a tough sell to managers already working hard to get through each day’s tasks, but it’s a plan well worth pursuing. Stepping outside the daily hustle is essential in order to think about cultural changes such as placing higher value on workplace recognition. Changes in outlook require thoughtful consideration; they don’t magically emerge from being placed on the latest “to-do” list. Additionally, getting out of the office helps task-oriented managers gain a clearer view of why interpersonal workplace relationships matter.

  1. Invest in leadership development

A good way to approach a manager who isn’t supportive of employee recognition is to offer an opportunity for further training. Anyone who is serious about their own career will be eager to pursue a high-quality educational opportunity, especially if it’s underwritten by their company. Good leadership training programs should include a substantial emphasis on the why’s and how’s of employee recognition, and your managers may bring back new insights and techniques you hadn’t even considered.

Building a culture that recognizes employees is part of maintaining your company’s competitive edge. Supervisors and team leaders will be your strongest change agents once you help them recognize the importance of their role.

 

Employee Recognition

4 employee recognition best practices

Competition for top talent is intense, and your highly skilled workers are constantly being wooed by recruiters from other organizations. To build a strong company culture and foster employee engagement and alignment, you need to recognize their contributions in a way that makes them feel genuinely appreciated. The acronym R.I.S.E. is a helpful way to summarize these four employee recognition best practices:

R: Regular

People should recognize their colleagues on a consistent basis. Consistently offering appreciation for good performance sets up a reliable feedback system, developing an automatic expectation of excellence in your organization.

I: Immediate

To best reinforce behavior, recognitions should be given in a timely way. It’s a basic truism of psychology that people learn fastest when they receive prompt responses as a result of their actions. This principle is especially relevant when you have younger employees, because millennials have grown up in the fast-paced digital era and have come to expect immediate interactions with their world.

S: Specific

Recognitions should name exactly what the person did that impressed you or that reflected company values. Random or overly general words of praise can actually backfire on you and sound hollow to your workers. As Meghan Biro writes in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.”

E: Encouraging

Recognitions should provide positive encouragement. This statement may sound obvious at first, but it refers to the fact that each employee should receive recognition in the form that they find most personally meaningful. In their NYTimes bestselling book, The 5 Languages for Appreciation in the Workplace, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White identify different approaches to employee appreciation. These include words of affirmation and tangible gifts. The authors point out that these methods are all similar to the ways in which parents instill a sense of value in children, although the employer-employee relationship is very different from a parental one.

The need for appreciation is fundamental to every human being. When this need is understood and fulfilled in a workplace context, it creates a positive environment in which employees feel motivated to excel.

accepting_praise

How to get comfortable accepting praise

by Iain Ferreira, Proposal Writer

In the rapidly growing, highly competitive corporate world, most people work hard to stand out from the rest of their colleagues through productivity and performance. However, when praised for the contributions they have made, most will respond with a sheepish smile and humbly try to deflect the praise elsewhere. While humility is an admirable quality, consistently deflecting praise can have numerous negative effects, including:

You could receive less recognition: Your managers and peers could be less inclined to offer positive reinforcement if they feel they are making you uncomfortable. Some might even feel as if you are questioning their judgement by recognizing you in the first place.

You might indirectly lessen the impact you made: The reason you’re being praised is you’ve had a tremendous impact on a particular facet of the business. If you downplay your contributions, it might make higher-ups view your role as less than the actual amount of effort you put in.

You could limit the visibility of your efforts: Promotions and management opportunities are often given to employees that create the most value. By accepting an award at a company-wide function or having your manager sing your praises on a conference call with top executives, your value to the company reaches those that might not work in your department.

With companies putting greater emphasis on employee recognition, accepting a compliment in an appropriate manner can go a long way to furthering your career goals. Here are some ways to better accept compliments in the workplace:

Accept the recognition: Don’t deflect attention elsewhere. A manager is complimenting you because your work compelled them to do so.

Be mindful of body language: Don’t shrug your shoulders or look away when being praised. Maintain eye contact with the recognizer and respond with a smile. The subtle reinforcement of positive body language can go a long way in ensuring that you are recognized again.

Thank the person complimenting you: A succinct, sincere “thank you” is more than enough indication that you appreciate being complimented. If you feel it necessary, thanking someone is a good place to reinforce your accomplishment, “Thank you so much, it was a huge project but thanks to some quick thinking, we completed it without a hitch” or include others, assuming management hasn’t already thanked your colleagues for their work, “Thank you, if not for (insert name here), this could have been a disaster.”

Return the favor: If someone complimenting you has played a role in whatever success you’re being recognized for, receiving a compliment is an excellent opportunity to return the favor and compliment them back. “Thank you so much for recognizing my effort on project X. Truth be told, I couldn’t have done it without your help.”

These are just some of the ways you can show gratitude for recognition. Ultimately, how you interact in the workplace is defined on the individual level and can be influenced by your company’s culture as well. As such, recognition doesn’t have to be limited to an in-person compliment— greeting cards, gifts, group email recognitions, or a post on a company-wide recognition platform are just a few ways to give and receive praise in the workplace.

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is a Proposal Writer at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco.

 

Disengaged Employees

How to rehabilitate disengaged employees

Disengagement in the workplace is a problem that’s all too common these days, and disengaged employees have a negative impact on both their coworkers and businesses as a whole. A Gallup poll found that fewer than 31 percent of American workers felt engaged in their jobs, while 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because these workers can wreak havoc on productivity and morale, you need to be able to recognize the signs of disengagement so you can address it as it happens.

Signs of disengagement in employees

  • Withdrawal from participation: An employee who suddenly begins to miss meetings, starts leaving early, or takes extra days off may be disengaged. Likewise, a significant withdrawal from normal work conversations may also indicate a problem. As a manager, you should watch for changes that stray from an employee’s long-standing behavior or routine.
  • Undermining and gossiping: Employees who feel disconnected from their workplace can also develop grudges against coworkers or managers. They sometimes engage in gossip that undermines company goals, and they may even intentionally spread misinformation.
  • Apathy and poor follow-through: Disengagement typically results in employees who are no longer aligned with organizational goals. For this reason, you may notice that they don’t care about the quality of their work and that they substitute excuses for task completion.

How to rehabilitate a disengaged employee

Start by reaching out to a disengaged employee to see how they’re feeling. They may be facing issues or obstacles that you can help solve. Human resources and team leaders can work together on this goal, interviewing the employee to discover their concern, be it a family need that makes a current schedule unworkable or a conflict with an immediate manager. Active listening is crucial here, and so is a willingness to make changes. Team reassignments, flexible scheduling, extra training opportunities, and other types of reorganization should all be on the table when mitigating issues with employee motivation.

While individual employee concerns can be specific and situational, proactive solutions to employee disengagement require an awareness of demographic trends. An extensive report on disengagement by AON Hewitt notes that the leading aspects of job engagement for millennial workers are career opportunities, good manager performance, company reputation, pay scale, and good communication. That means that the engagement programs you’ve had in place for one generation of employees might not be as powerful for a different generation. Determine what kinds of company-wide systems you need to have in place to reduce disengagement, whether it’s more manager training, better onboarding, employee recognition and rewards, or a more meaningful company mission.

create_magnetic_culture

Create a magnetic company culture with recognition and great data

by Sarah Clayton, Communications and Campaigns Specialist 

A Magnetic Culture is one that draws talented employees to the workplace, empowers them, and sustains an environment in which they are less likely to leave.

– Kevin Sheridan, Employee Engagement & Virtual Management Expert

At Achievers, we love to get like-minded people together, so we have been hosting regional events to discuss engagement and recognition strategies with our local clients and others in the business community. We recently co-hosted a breakfast seminar with our client partner, Discover, to discuss the impact of having a magnetic culture.

The speakers gave thought-provoking presentations that sparked insightful discussions around a key element of company success: recognition. People are a valuable resource: when you invest time in your people, you will see that investment reflected in their work. Our motto at Achievers is “Change the way the world works”, and that means providing our clients, and prospects, with the tools to effectively invest in their team through recognition. To that end, we have summarized some focal points from the seminar and their connection to the Achievers platform.

Alarmingly, nearly two thirds of the workforce is defined as “ambivalent employees”: a delicate group who lie in limbo between engaged and disengaged. If addressed correctly, members of this group can be converted to productive, engaged employees. The alternative is that they remain ambivalent (the ‘quit and stay’), or that they progress toward disengagement, neither of which are attractive options for a company or culture. Thus the question begs: how do you engage an ambivalent employee?

There’s a saying that “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” Data helps you identify, analyze, and solve problems, so we made it a priority to have an abundance of data accessible through our platform. It provides insight into engagement levels, the impact variables or events have on engagement, and workplace trends (to name a few).

The most valuable aspect of the data we provide is that it is real time, so you can react promptly to the needs of your team. When a company has agile response times to employee behaviors, it goes a long way to build trust and grow engagement. For a company to thrive in the Information Age, external expectations of real-time information exchange and reactions must be integrated into company practices.

In order to realize the full potential of a resource, it’s integral to understand how to leverage it — an idea that is especially relevant with a company’s human capital. In conjunction with the data we provide, the unique employee profile that is generated through platform activity provides managers insight into the skills and behaviors of their team members.

An employee profile is a valuable tool for employee development because it acts as a centralized collection of their recognition moments, awards, milestones, and interactions. It streamlines the process of performance reviews, and the continual collection ensures no accomplishments are missed. The exposure a profile can provide into interdepartmental relationships and traits valued among colleagues presents a strategic opportunity to help develop career paths. When managers can show an employee that they are actively invested in their future with the company, the employee is more likely to reciprocate through engagement.

High usage levels across the platform are indicative of strong employee buy-in: we’re presenting them with a communication channel they want to use. The ability to voice their opinions through recognition not only fosters engagement, it creates a sense of empowerment.

The historic practice of reserving recognition for management contributes to a hierarchical role divide that is not conducive to a collaborative work environment. With organizations becoming progressively flatter, power that was once centralized at the top is being disseminated across employees. To successfully navigate structural shifts, power needs to be given an outlet — and recognition is a popular choice. It facilitates cohesion between company values and employees, and it helps employees shape the work environment they want to see.

Employee engagement is an output that is derived from multiple inputs, with the end goal being a magnetic culture. The Achievers platform provides several tools that can be leveraged according to trends and strategic company goals to develop a culture that resonates with employees.

 

Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Finding the right social employee recognition solution: partner, platform, program

Employee recognition — done right — is today’s must-have for business. Social employee recognition systems appear on Gartner’s Hype Cycle, climbing the curve to become a standard business system — but how do you choose the right system? It’s a choice that comes with very high stakes. Pick the wrong partner and you not only risk throwing your money to the wind; you could also alienate your entire workforce. Ouch.

Let’s consider what to look for to better your chances of finding the right fit.

It starts with finding a partner. This means the people and services that stand behind the solution. Ultimately, a platform is only as good as the people who bring it to life. The success of your employee recognition program hinges on the support and expertise your vendor provides.

A platform: The core technology system that your employee recognition program will run on. Enterprise platforms – rather than a mobile-only solution for example – give you the place to consolidate all of your employee programs and get visibility and control over program spend. Platforms that offer an API enable you to integrate the solution with other enterprise applications. It’s a great opportunity to keep employees productive by having recognition right within their flow of work and enables you to bring your workforce data together, ultimately getting more value out of your investment in each application.

Ability to create your unique program. Getting results relies on how well the set of features and functions you’ll be using can be tailored to the culture and objectives you’re targeting.  It might go without saying, but recognition tools need to be front and center.  Here is a short list of some of the essential recognition features to look for that will ensure your program will be successful.

Recognition tools to look for:

2016 Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Learn more about what you need to consider to find the right employee recognition solution for your organization in our new 2016 Buyer’s Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Employee Appreciation Day

Achievers employees, we appreciate you!

In honor of Employee Appreciation Week, we wanted to highlight a handful of our A-mazing employees. While we didn’t have the space to feature everyone, all members of the Achievers family deserve recognition. We hope you’ll be recognizing your employees this week as well!

Need ideas for how to do it? Get 30 fun, fresh ideas for celebrating Employee Appreciation Day!

2016-EAW_social_4 2016-EAW_social_6 2016-EAW_social_8 2016-EAW_social_10 2016-EAW_social_12 2016-EAW_social_14 2016-EAW_social_16 2016-EAW_social_18 2016-EAW_social_20 2016-EAW_social_22 2016-EAW_social_24 2016-EAW_social_262016-EAW_social_2

Employee Appreciation Day

30 fun, fresh ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – or week!

by Rebecca Wetherbee

Can I just start by saying, blog reader… you rock! Everyone here on the Achievers team really appreciates YOU for sifting through the vast interweb and landing on the [engage] blog, for spending time reading and sharing the articles we work so hard to create.

We are all caught up in the spirit of Employee Appreciation Day, which is right around the corner on March 4th. In fact, we love Employee Appreciation Day so much that we celebrate it all week! There is so much you can do to express appreciation for the people who work at your organization, and we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our ideas… including things we’ve done in the past that our employees have loved.

It’s essential to make employee recognition, including rewards, part of your everyday company culture. But that doesn’t mean Employee Appreciation Week should go unnoticed. These extra-special perks will remind all of your employees how much the company cares.

 

Wellness

  1. On-site massage therapists or chiropractors

Your employees are on their feet, hunched over computers, and sitting for long commutes… help them relax.

  1. Guided meditation

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Bring in an expert to guide your employees, or host a recorded meditation for anyone who wants to participate in a quiet, dim room.

  1. Free yoga or other exercise classes

Hire an on-site yoga or exercise teacher to come in for the day and host a series of classes for employees.

  1. Catered lunch and/or breakfast

Bring your employees together and give them fuel for their busy day, by supplying healthy lunches or dinners for the whole company.

  1. Fitness trackers

Encourage employees to keep better track of their steps, heart rate, and sleep by supplying fitness trackers. Bonus: the data from fitness trackers can be used for employee step competitions throughout the year!

  1. Bring in standing desks

Not every employee will want to stand all the time, but you can provide supplies to temporarily convert desks into a standing format, or create permanent standing stations with monitors and power cords throughout the office.

Work

  1. Educational speakers

Give employees access to thought leaders in your industry. It’s educational, and entertaining!

  1. Budget for employee-selected training/development

Give team leaders a set budget for each employee they manage, then give employees the freedom to select the training they want – whether it’s a conference, class, or online course.

  1. Hold executive office hours

Typically, your executive team is only accessible to your high-level managers. Give employees at all levels the opportunity to connect, share ideas, and ask questions of the leaders at your organization.

  1. Personal project time

Set aside time for your employees to drop their regular projects and work on something they’re passionate about.

  1. Complete an initiative you’ve been promising

Have you been telling employees forever that you’re going to overhaul performance reviews, bring in better snacks, or renovate the office bathrooms? Nothing will show your employees you appreciate them more than by fulfilling those promises.

  1. Office revamp

Speaking of renovations, does your office need a facelift? Major construction isn’t in the cards for everyone, but there are a number of things that can improve employee experience, including: better chairs, better lighting, more plants, a fresh coat of paint, or whatever your employees say they need!

  1. Updated electronics

Time to do upgrades of laptops, monitors, smartphones, and software. Your employees will be thrilled, and probably more productive.

  1. A half day off work

Your employees will really feel appreciated if you let them leave early on March 4th!

  1. Flex vacation day

If it’s not feasible for all employees to take an afternoon off at the same time, grant everyone one extra vacation day to use as they please; or put basic parameters on when they can redeem. If you’re going to give this gift though, don’t make it too restrictive.

  1. Extended break times

Whether your employees typically get 15-minute breaks or 30-minute lunches, double their break times this week.

  1. Bring your dog to work

Dogs can be great for reducing stress at the office. Not to mention, the owners can save a little money on dog-walker fees.

  1. Give volunteering hours

Corporate social responsibility is an important way to keep your employees engaged. By giving your employees time off to volunteer, you reinforce your company’s dedication to CSR, and you give your team a great opportunity to get out of the office.

Recognition

  1. Public employee recognition

If you use a social recognition platform, this is something that happens every day. But you can make your recognitions extra special by blasting a few out to the company email list, praising someone during a team meeting, or posting recognitions up on public bulletin boards.

  1. Social media employee recognition

If you want to praise your great employees for the whole world to see, post individual recognitions on your company’s social media channels. Just be sure to get the employees’ permission before you share their names or photos.

  1. Rewards & recognition suggestion box

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a physical box – but it is a great idea to reach out to your employees and ask them what forms of recognition and rewards are the most meaningful to them. Is there something that your recognition or total rewards program is missing? This is a great time to find out.

  1. Office awards ceremony

Host a company-wide awards ceremony to celebrate some of the biggest successes over the past year, whether they were accomplished by individuals or whole departments. Make the ceremony a fun, creative, event – not just another company meeting.

  1. Personalized thank you notes

Recognition technology is a powerful thing, but we still love the idea of hand-written notes every now and then. It gives a certain touch!

Gifts & Treats

  1. Pick-a-subscription gift

Gifts like monthly cheese samplers, doggie gift boxes, or snack subscriptions are a great way to show your employees you care on an ongoing basis. Send out a list of options that fit your budget, and let your employees pick what works for them.

  1. High-quality sweet treats

Even if you keep the kitchen stocked with mini candy bars, your employees will be happier if you pick up a box of treats from the local bakery, the popular cupcake place around the corner, or the trendy donut shop.

  1. Better coffee

Get rid of the rocket fuel. Treat your employees to a selection of gourmet beans and blends. Or if budget allows, bring in a pop-up barista for the week who can whip up lattes and cappuccinos.

  1. Live entertainment

Concerts, comedy shows, and sporting events are all great bonding opportunities for your employees, whether you bring the performers on campus, or take your employees on a field trip.

  1. Spot bonuses

You can’t go wrong with bonuses. But if you’re going to go this route, be generous. Sums too small might insult your teams.

  1. Extra budget for team outings

Give team leaders budget for fun activities. They can plan outings that their team is likely to enjoy, and they can bond more easily in a small group setting.

  1. Fun desk drops

Give your employees something fun to look forward to all week by leaving quirky, fun, or useful gifts on their desks before they arrive.

 

Rebecca WetherbeeRebecca Wetherbee is Achievers’ social media manager, responsible for creating and promoting content across all of our branded social networks as well as this very blog.

Employee Recognition

Why you need to celebrate employee milestones

As a manager, you’re aware that it’s important to give employees everyday recognition, praise, and feedback. You’ll do a better job of effectively delivering this recognition, however, if you understand the reasons behind it. Here are three primary effects you’ll experience from building employee recognition into your daily workplace culture:

  • Better morale: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that employees invest in your company is a good way to give them “a sense of ownership and belonging,” according to HR Council. They’re more likely to have the motivation to go above and beyond on the next project if they know their efforts will be noticed.
  • Greater employee retention: As HR.com points out, this isn’t rocket science – employees who are recognized are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees equal higher retention rates. On the flip side, employee turnover can be a huge expense for your company and can damage your customer’s experience with your brand.
  • Higher productivity: After surveying more than 4 million employees in 10,000 business units, the Gallup Organization states unequivocally that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity.

Options for employee recognition

In addition to ongoing recognition and feedback, HR and managers need to develop special ways to celebrate bigger milestones. When your workers meet their goals, achieve a professional accomplishment such as a new certification, earn a promotion, or even hit their annual anniversary, there are a variety of unique ways that you can mark their special occasion. These are a few popular reward and recognition ideas that go beyond everyday praise:

  • Free lunch
  • Gift card or financial bonus
  • “Free” time off
  • New electronics like an upgraded smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • All-expenses-paid vacation
  • Special award or bonus points
  • A public, company-wide ecard

Recognizing your employees will pay off

When you acknowledge the contributions your employees make and create an encouraging workplace culture, you’re laying the foundation for your future business success. Gallup’s Business Journal estimates that “22 million workers (in the United States alone) are extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged.” This disaffection ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity every year, not including associated absences, injuries, and employee turnover. Take the time to invest in your employees’ sense of meaning, pride, and emotional health – the investment could pay back in the form of better productivity and retention.