How to Improve Performance Reviews

Eight tips for getting the most out of employee evaluations, from David Lahey, founder of Predictive Success Corporation

David Lahey, Founder of Predictive Success Corporation
David Lahey, Founder of Predictive Success Corporation

David Lahey is the founder of Predictive Success Corporation and has been a certified Predictive Index (PI) analyst since 1988. He received his training as a certified PI facilitator and has been a global leader in PI Worldwide for several years. In the past, Lahey’s experience working with people and growing business units has included clients such as Microsoft in both Canada and the United States. Lahey’s work and insights have been featured in the Globe and Mail, the Province, the Calgary Herald, the Star Phoenix, and the Financial Post, as well as on CBC Radio. And, in 2013, Predictive Success was named to the Profit 500.

Really think about the individual 

Do they have high potential? How will they take a bad review? What is causing their performance falloff? What’s their cognitive ability? What’s their potential like? Tools such as our Professional Learning Indicator or other cognitive assessments can help. Employees may be performing badly because they’re bored, or perhaps their cognitive ability is not what’s needed for their particular job. Managers may also want to look at personality productivity throwback—this will give an indication of your blind spots—both positive and negative. Use this to put together a recovery plan or a coaching-for-success plan.

Act like a coach

Get the employees to think about how they can get to be the best version of themselves in their roles. If a performance review is seen as a development tool with a work plan to get better in the role, then everyone wins. If it’s seen as negative browbeating, then there’s no upside.

Consider conducting them in real-time or on the fly

A number of companies have started doing this. Too many performance reviews are performed because they have to be. Once completed, they are placed in an HR record and never looked at again. If a company is going to hold performance reviews, they need to mean something and be used to develop individuals.

Prepare the review after looking at the individual’s personality assessment

We’re seeing a trend in the use of the PI before sitting down to a performance review. By using the PI, they’ll know how to best deliver good news or a tough message to the employee. It’s important to be aware of the behaviours and drives of the person getting the review and to understand how the information will be received.

They should focus on the entire past year

There’s a trend happening where reviewers are focusing on current events that have happened within the week or days before the performance review. Instead, they should be diarized for the whole 12-month period.

Book performance reviews one year in advance

A lot of times, they’re booked a few weeks before. They need to change from a tick mark on the HR requirements checklist to an opportunity to deliver feedback and coaching in real time all the time. The best time to implement corrective action or to give coaching is immediately or very close to the event. Plus, people’s memories can change over time.

Look at the gap-fit analysis

Look at the professional requirements of the job and how the individual’s Performance Requirement Options fit the individual’s personality. How big is this gap? Is it too big? Is the individual in the wrong role?

Beware of bottlenecking; this is a productivity challenge

This is a trend we’re seeing. There’s not as much talent as there are jobs. It behooves managers to be careful in performance reviews. You need to turn performance reviews into development reviews so that talent doesn’t leave due to a bad review. If you don’t, talent will leave, and turnover can be costly.