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ATD Blog

Making The Most Of The Dreaded Annual Review


Thu Nov 08 2012


(From Fast Company) -- Engagement is a personal equation, and managers must play a role in helping each employee solve it. Your best managers already understand this. They’re not waiting for survey data to shape what they do. They don’t make engagement a once-a-year priority, distinct from what they do the rest of the time. They always manage their teams with an eye toward results and engagement.

How do they do it? Dialogue. Sounds pretty simple: if you manage employees, you need to talk to them. Yet manager-employee conversations are more of a myth than a best practice in a majority of organizations. Many managers sheepishly acknowledge that they should have more regular sit-downs with their individual team members, but a variety of excuses (e.g., “Not enough time,” “Mired in my own work,” “Never get around to it”) stand in the way. That is too bad, because dialogue is at the heart of high engagement and sustainable performance.


So rather than investing your time and resources in driving manager compliance with check-the-box corporate-driven online engagement action plans, get your managers talking to their people.

The Performance Appraisal

This discussion should be on every manager’s list already and is likely to be the only conversation that is happening with any consistency or regularity. Unfortunately, it is often seen as an HR-driven task that fills many managers and employees with dread--and does little to actually fuel high performance.

The performance appraisal is primarily about what employees need to deliver to drive the organization’s success. It’s an opportunity to review results, provide feedback on how results were achieved (if your performance management systems includes competencies or organizational values), and confirm expectations. It’s also the time to talk about any development needed to achieve even greater success in current roles and upcoming projects.

We have seen managers tackle these conversations with a variety of styles--from meek conflict-avoidance to the back-of-the-head-with-a-two-by-four. But one thing routinely lacking from performance appraisals is this: how do we build the “success connection”--namely, how do we figure out how best to put your passion and talents to work for the greatest contribution to the organization?


Although performance appraisals appropriately focus on maximum contribution the organization’s side of the engagement model), the greatest performance improvement results when an individual’s personal motivators, interests, and talents are taken into account.

Read more.

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