By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO
Nothing quite says the holiday season like turkey, Christmas trees, and performance evaluations — everyone’s favorite time of the year, at least for two of the three.
Ideally, we’d be doing reviews some other time of the year. But we choose to do our employee evaluations at the end of the year to make them somewhat of a year in review, as well as to line up with when the next year’s budget is approved for any kind of salary adjustments.
Even though the timing isn’t great, our evaluations aren’t the biggest deal. Our organization is in a constant state of learning. We make mistakes, and we fix them. If a team member isn’t doing something quite right, we talk about it. Or if someone does something good, we talk about that, too. But we do it at the time it happens. We don’t put them on some list and keep them bottled up until we get to a once-a-year performance evaluation and unload on people. None of our employees should walk into a performance review at our company and be blindsided by anything. And if they are, shame on us.
Our reviews are also pretty basic and aren’t full of the usual clichés like BE (Below Expectations), NI (Needs Improvement), etc. There’s nothing like using three pages of acronyms and abbreviations to describe people’s performances to let them know how much they mean to your organization.
To work at our organization, you need skin thick enough to understand that feedback is what helps you improve. We want everyone we hire to succeed. If our team members succeed, there is a pretty good chance we’ll succeed as an organization. So if an issue comes up, we talk about when it comes up.
To me, this is all about treating your team members humanely and doing whatever you can to facilitate their development. But you’ve also got to hire people who are open to feedback. If you try to have a conversation about something that could have gone better and they play the victim, they might not be the right kind of people for your team.
To be human is to be imperfect. And if you think you’re perfect, you’re probably going to find out the hard way that you aren’t.