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Bringing Meaning to Annual Performance Appraisals

November 13, 2016

Bringing Meaning to Annual Performance Appraisals

Do Your Performance Appraisals Rock?

Millennial employees are changing the game when it comes to annual reviews. They have different expectations than previous generations and often their managers just don’t know how to motivate them. Fortunately, getting it right is easier than you might think.

The end-of-year review is a time for feedback, appraisal and evaluation. But more importantly, it’s a unique opportunity to show genuine appreciation for your employees. And this doesn’t only mean praising those in the leadership roles. Letting each employee know that they’re appreciated, and more importantly WHY they’re appreciated, should be your goal. It’s much easier to reinforce existing positive behaviors than to create new ones.

Remember that you represent the company to your employees – your sincere thanks will go a long way toward cementing the bond between your company and its staff. Also remember that the year-end review happens right before holiday time off – an employee who’s dissatisfied with the review experience can become a flight risk in the New Year.

Motivating employees with specific language:

Being specific with your vocabulary when giving your annual reviews is important because as people we attach many connotations to particular words used. Motivating staff by telling them they’ve done “great” or “excellent” might seem highly complementary to you, but to them it may sound insincere. Instead, use your performance appraisal to describe the behavior you’ve observed – “I’m impressed at attention to detail you’ve shown in delivering accurate reports every week” or “I can see you’ve been practicing your presentation skills – you really stood out in the Dynexo pitch.”

Importantly, this guidance applies to both spoken and written language. If your company’s format requires written assessment, try to include these types of details as often as possible. It will transform the culture of your company into one that can recognize and articulate the individual qualities of each employee and will show that you are an attentive manager.

Bridging from past performance to future goals:

Praising an employee during a performance appraisal for their past achievements while offering constructive guidance is the core of your annual review. A great boss will use the employee’s recent successes as a jumping off point for new and more challenging goals. For the employee who’s recently shown, for example, improved presentation skills challenge them and show your trust by committing to give them an opportunity to present at a major company or customer event (with your coaching and support).

Of course, this is not just about personal development and recognition – it’s also about setting tangible business goals that support the company’s plans. Personal and business goals, though, can feel more closely linked if you’re thoughtful in how you manage this process.

For many, the annual review can feel like a tired and meaningless compliance function – “checking the box.” That’s because it’s often treated this way. As a manager, invest in bringing meaning to this event.

The importance of employee recognition:

Employee appreciation is the gift that keeps on giving: it costs nothing and the rewards are immense. But to view these rewards as only relating to company performance would be a mistake. If you view employees as cogs in a machine in annual need of oiling, people will see right through you. View recognition as a personal gift and that’s how it will be received.

In addition to employee appreciation, reinforce to the employee that they “belong.” This satisfies a basic need for affiliation and can be very powerful. Tell the employee that they “fit in,” are “part of the family,” or better yet, “make the office a better place.”

Handing out small tokens of appreciation:

The more personalized the feedback, the more likely it is to resonate, especially with millennial employees. Our AttaCoin tokens, a new take on military challenge coins, are a perfect way to do this, and the history of challenge coins attests to their effectiveness. Whether for showing creativity and ideas, providing inspirational leadership or building strong team spirit, we have developed coins for any employee.

To drive both recognition and affiliation, consider AttaCoin Tokens with your own company logo or slogan. In just a few weeks, you can have your own custom challenge coin designed to your own spec.

You’ll be surprised at how different performance appraisals can be!

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