Princess Bride fans know the character above by many names, one of which is Dread Pirate Roberts. The most feared pirate on any sea was actually several pirates that kept passing down the name. This is actually phenomenal fear marketing as it's very unlikely someone would surrender to Dread Pirate Westley (and Dread Pirate Fleming would actually never set sail as I get sea sick).
You see, dread is defined as "great fear or apprehension". Perfect for describing pirates but also far too often a perfect description of the year end performance review process.
Bosses are chocked full of dread this time of year. And unfortunately, they enjoy repeatedly speaking in many public forums about how many reviews they "have to get done this week". These public decrees are often in the presence of the very people who will be on the receiving end of these reviews. Bosses, this behavior as to stop. Now. This year.
These meetings are too important. In fact, since everyone is so busy, 1:1 meetings throughout the year are either skipped or turned into project updates only, limiting or eliminating career discussion time.
Shred the Dread with these 5 tips for bosses:
(1) Pinpoint at least one 1:1 meeting each month to START with a career discussion so it's not all bottled up into one year end meeting.
(2) Do not utter a single word about the time reviews require. Not one. And no complaining about the form you must fill out, either. Put in the time to make this discussion great.
(3) Use very specific examples when you are praising and offering constructive feedback. Leave no place for misinterpretation. Show examples of the level of performance you expect and appreciate. And throughout the year, try to provide this coaching "in the moment".
(4) Get input from colleagues across the organization at all levels. Many times people are perceived quite differently from department to department. This info provides great coaching material.
(5) Let your employee talk first -- the typical expectation is that you will be doing most of the talking. This is your chance, before anything you say can bias the discussion, to hear what's on his or her mind.
The review process can ignite great performance. Inconceivable? No, conceivable.