…From The Desk Of Jayne Battey
Miramar Farms is a young company — just about two years old this coming August. About eight months ago we hired our first full time employee. So this past spring I got ready to do my first performance review. I sat down with Nicole (full time employee #1), asked her to put together a self-evaluation, and told her I would review it and then prepare my performance evaluation of her work as well. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for acting like a “real” company.
About three days later I came into the office to find Nicole diligently working away. I noticed a funny little sketch she had hand-drawn on a tablet. When I asked about it, she explained that she was using this as a way to think about her responsibilities and performance at Miramar Farms. And it struck me: Nicole put herself at the center of the picture — not the farm, not me, not the work. If I was going to give her constructive input on her performance at all, I needed to keep her at the center of my thinking as well.
This may not seem like rocket science, but it offered me some healthy insight into my role as a leader and manager. When it comes to “performance managing” our team, I really need to understand the strengths and weaknesses, the perspective and the world experience each team member brings to us. I need to keep them at the center of the picture.
Here’s the thing: The performance review process at too many organizations is incredibly broken. It’s become an annual or semi-annual ritual that is usually despised by both the reviewers and the reviewed. It suggests a level of individual judgment and certitude that rarely feels appropriate given the highly complex world we live in, and it provokes real anger (or dismissal) from a new generation of Gen-Y employees who don’t give much credence to one-sided assessments.
So, Miramar Farms won’t be doing annual performance reviews. Instead, we’ll coach our employees daily, hold weekly staff discussions where we openly discuss what is going well and what is not, and have quiet conversations immediately when there are issues that need to be addressed, coaching that needs to happen or inappropriate behavior that needs to be corrected. We won’t wait. We won’t store it up. We will work with each of the very special and talented people who work with us to bring out the very best they can be.
And one last note: Thanks, Nicole, for reminding me I have at least as much to learn from you as I have to share with you.
There are a number of excellent articles written about the need for radical change in performance management and review processes. Here are a couple of great links: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sylviavorhausersmith/2012/12/16/the-new-face-of-performance-management-trading-annual-reviews-for-agile-management/