By: Rachel Heisterkamp
The performance review process, whether it happens twice a year or on an ongoing basis at your organization, is critical for boosting employee motivation and re-centering individuals with their own goals. However, one step of this performance process is often overlooked: self-assessments. Having employees take a step back and take a close look at their own work is essential, and it opens the conversation into a larger, two-way forum. Reflecting on personal performance gives employees a huge seat at the table when it comes to discussing their successes and obstacles, and that’s an opportunity that builds trust. Research shows that when employees can express their own understanding of their performance, they’re often more satisfied with the equity of the review process. In other words, employees crave the chance to have a say in their mid-year or end-of-year reviews, even when they don’t expect it to influence the outcome.
With this baseline in place, your organization can set the tone for a more honest, productive performance review experience – in fact, another study showed that employees who participate in self-reflection are more likely to have more detailed discussions about their performance, including potential challenges. With more motivated employees taking part in the process, managers will likely get a more complete look into their team’s day-to-day wins and tasks. Self-assessments and reflections can also offer an opportunity for feedback to managers about how to best engage their employee at work – ultimately building a more mutually beneficial performance review session.
Read these 3 ideas for incorporating self-reflection into your performance reviews this season:
1. Include tactical resources in your performance communications
It’s one thing to ask employees to pause and reflect on their work over the last two quarters, and it’s another to give them the tools to really self-assess effectively. Sending out easily digestible, engaging resources can make it a simple and enjoyable process for employees to look back on what they’ve accomplished. Consider a questionnaire-style form with helpful prompts, or a self-assessment checklist to get employees started off on the right foot. As part of any successful employee communications strategy, you’ll certainly want to target your workforce at the right place at the right time, but you’ll also want to be ready with the right information. The resources you provide as part of the lead up to mid-year or end-of year assessments can go a long way for employees as they prepare. Consider prompting employees with questions like:
- What was your biggest accomplishment this quarter?
- What skills have you gained in the last year, and what skills are you still working on?
- What kind of work would you like to do more of in the future?
- What company objectives resonate most with you and your role?
This act of self-reflection paves the way for more meaningful, motivating conversations between employees and managers that don’t feel as high-pressure as traditional performance reviews.
2. Enable people managers to lead the process
Your team leaders are the drivers of your organization’s performance management cycles. This means they need to be as dialed in as possible to company-wide guidelines, key dates, and where to find critical resources like self-assessment checklists. When employees have questions about the performance process, people managers are the first place they’ll go – optimize your communications strategy to segment and target people managers specifically, so they have an idea of what to expect. Many organizations in the last year have made changes to the way they go about performance reviews, and whether or not your company is in that same boat, your managers need to be experts on what’s being asked of their team… and why it matters.
3. Remember to start with strong goal setting
One of the most important questions to answer in any self-reflection is about progress on employees’ own goals. What progress have they made on their goals in the last 6 or 12 months? How would they describe the impact of that progress on their team’s success? On the organization’s? Goal setting is not just an important motivational tool in the moment of authoring objectives, it’s also vital as a measurement in moments when you need to measure progress. Oftentimes, there’s more to the story than a simple “yes, I met my goals,” or “no, I didn’t meet them.” A self-reflection or self-assessment allows the opportunity for employees to elaborate on anything from a shift in priorities, to roadblocks that weren’t anticipated, or even requests for additional responsibility.
Ensuring employees are setting strong goals using the SMART method is the perfect way to prompt these meaningful conversations down the road, and also reinforces the idea that employees are in the driver’s seat of their own career – from goal setting to reviews – ultimately fostering a culture of employee empowerment.
Self-reflection is a powerful tool, and it’s often left out of more traditional performance reviews. This performance season, make sure your company holds holistic, two-sided, productive discussions that drive the true purpose of performance management: individual empowerment and motivation. Embed simple resources as part of your communications strategy, enable your people managers with the information they need to be successful coaches, and put strong goal setting at the core of your process.