Performance Reviews, Behaviors, and the Best of Both Worlds

Like many companies, the organizations I worked for in the past embraced annual performance reviews.  I hated them.  Providing feedback once a year (or twice if you actually got that mid-year meeting scheduled and conducted) has a number of negative implications, such as focusing on an incident a year old, poor behavior that had been seemingly condoned by the manager only to be brought up by said manager during this “one-time” conversation, and the discussion being driven by personality differences instead of the employee’s performance and behavior.

In essence, annual reviews focus on past performance and do not take into consideration the professional growth that could have been realized had timely feedback been given. Not to mention the missed opportunities of completed projects, achieving deliverables, and meeting expectations.

Why does this matter?  Let me be transparent. During an annual performance review, I was rated as “not meeting expectations” in two of the ten categories.  In this case, I had the token manager who focused on one incident where I failed to make a deadline and pushed back on a deliverable because it was unreasonable.  This manager did not care about knowing or meeting my needs because he used the annual performance review as the only time to give feedback.  This program didn’t allow for a more timely, creative, and collaborative approach, and because our personalities were not 100% compatible, the focus of the conversations were personality-driven and not based on performance and behaviors.

I didn’t take too kindly to a rating below excellent, and my manager had a very difficult time concluding that conversation.  Which leads me to reflecting on my own behaviors and how I could have engaged in that conversation differently. Although my performance really was excellent, my behaviors were misconstrued. 

How did that happen? Let’s go back …

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been extremely independent.  Defiant even.

I’ve taken a number of assessments during my career, such as Myers-Briggs, DiSC, and StandOut, and each of them provided a glimpse of who I am, how I operate, and where my “zone of genius” lies.

And since I love learning more about “me”, I recently took a behavioral assessment from the Predictive Index (“PI”), which is a talent optimization platform. The assessment, which takes less than 2-minutes to complete, categorizes individuals into 17 Reference Profiles.  Not surprisingly, I fell into the “Individualist” profile. 

As a PI Consultant, I’ve learned much about these profiles and, more importantly, the significance of the categorization of “needs and behaviors” in each Reference Profile.  My needs are independence, working with facts, freedom from changing priorities, and flexibility. But these needs, if not communicated, will go unmet. And tension will surface. 

Had I taken this assessment while employed in that “annual performance review only” organization, the results would have answered a very simple, very important, question for my manager: “What’s the best way to work with Debbie?”  Here’s what Debbie needs: Give me space; I need to develop and act on my own ideas. I also need to be challenged; I love digging into problems and overcoming obstacles.  Finally, I need to work with others who are receptive to new ideas, change, and risks.

My behaviors as an individualist include having self-confidence, being analytical and methodical, and all the while also being non-conforming. 

Given that information, you might surmise that I would not be a great fit for my GVP-HR role in which I was responsible for organizational processes, procedures, policies, compliance, and structure. To the contrary, being able to see things differently, knowing when to lean into rules or change them, and questioning the status quo made me very successful.  My approach was unique because I was not a rule follower, and I was extremely comfortable with uncertainty. 

As a results-oriented consultant and executive coach, my approach with my clients includes thinking creatively, leaning into uncertainty, stretching into conversations that start with “what if”, and identifying how solutions align with the organizational culture and business strategy.  

As much as I’d like to think times have changed, that’s just not the case.  Many of the human resource executives I work with tell me their organization still relies on the annual performance review despite HR’s insistence on new and better ways to approach performance and behaviors (whether good or poor).

About those annual reviews: Stop. Just stop!  Giving your employees “just-in-time” feedback that is collaborative, helpful, and supportive demonstrates your leadership abilities.  You’ll get better results, greater engagement, and employees who truly care about the purpose and future of the organization.

If you’re still “stuck” on doing things the same way they’ve always been done, let’s chat.  During a 30-minute discussion, we’ll unpack some of your pain points (like not getting the results from your strategy, failing to meet deadlines, discontent within a team, lack of collaboration between or among departments, productivity challenges) and work on a few things you can do immediately to address the pain.  The investment is just 30-minutes of your time and a commitment of taking the next step.

Let’s chat.


P.S.  Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!

P.P.S. With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader. My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching. I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with demonstrated ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.