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Q.
I've come to believe annual performance reviews aren't particularly effective. With what can I replace them?

A.
Annual performance reviews don't work as a substitute for real leadership. If employees have to wait for six months or a year to hear how they've screwed up or succeeded, that defeats the main purpose of such evaluations: changing behavior and/or inspiring motivation.

Good leaders make it a practice to meet briefly with each employee at least monthly for a mini-review. That review can consist of three components: exploring items that need improvement, highlighting things done well, and soliciting ideas on maintaining a successful program. When discussing what requires improvement, describe the problem area and ask for your employee's perspective on it, being careful to focus on the problem, not the person. Then, confer on what you would like to see changed, with measurable objectives to assess if progress is being made. Next, when you recap projects where the staffer is performing well, ask that person to tell you how he or she accomplished the result. (Not only will this reinforce the behavior, but it will also show you how the objective was reached.) Be sure to express personal gratitude for their efforts.

Last, ask staffers for ideas on how to maintain or improve performance. By following these steps for more frequent meetings, you'll find performance appraisals can become powerful tools instead of pointless rituals. E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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