This year I am designated as an architect. And I am not responsible to do performance review for the team members. But in the past when I was a manager this used to be a long, tedious and time consuming job(I had 9 team members that time). So I thought this year may be just look back at the last couple of performance reviews. If some of my old team members are reading this blog then they may know which instance I am talking about but the point here is to look at the process as a whole how it happened in the past.
As a manager I have to remember all the work done in the past by each team member and also the various key events that happened. If I go unprepared then already it will look like I am not concerned about the team member. Also doing a fair review without preparation is not possible. So here is the list of item that I prepare before going to the meeting
- The tasks allocated to each team member and how he performed it.
- Specific instances where the team member helped other team member and the team.
- Specific instances where the team member had created trouble for the team.
- The major plus points of the team member.
- The major minus points of the team member.
- What is my expectation? What I look forward?
- How the team member has performed with respect to previous years expectations?
- If the team member joined in between then take the feedback from the previous manager.
Then comes the real dialogue with the team member. Utmost I used to take 2 team members per day. I find a nice spacious room with good lighting for the dialogue. And before getting into the room I say to myself allow the team member to speak more and allow him to express his point of view. The following are some of the challenges that I faced in the past
Team member comes unprepared for the dialogue
This is the funniest one when I go prepared the team member comes without any preparation and just tries to think over during the dialogue. Or some times the team member will post questions to me regarding what he did all the time? In most of such scenarios my prepared task list helped me a lot. But I have always felt such dialogues are not that constructive. Mostly the team member attends the dialogue with “nothing is going to change” attitude.
Team member comes with lot of paint points
The team member makes a huge list of all the paint points and wants to discuss only those issue. Here the problem is the team member never wants to listen anything that is good that happened to the team member during that time period. The dialogue then becomes each one defending themselves.
Team member do not know what he/she wants
The team member comes to the meeting and says that one is not satisfied with everything. But if asked “what one wants?” then I get a blank face. One of the team member even told me that in a performance review if someone agrees that “one is satisfied with the current state” then such team member will not be compensated well.
Team member assumes lot of things that is not known to him/her
Most of the time when a decision is made regarding a particular person that person is not part of that meeting. Because of this most of the team members will assume and create lot of story/rumors that are baseless. Talking to such team members in a performance review is always hard because even if I knew the truth I cannot expose that in front of that person because I may leak some information that is not meant for him/her. And even if I expose the truth still the team member liked to believe the baseless assumptions because that gives a feeling that the team member is a victim and is suffering.
Team member compares with other team members
The dialogue becomes very complicated once the team member starts to compare himself/herself to another team member. I personally hate doing the comparison and try to avoid such discussions. But there are some team members who wants to compare with others and prove that he/she is better than that compared team member & being paid less. Most of the times in such situations I try to convince the team member that this comparison is not going to take us forward in any way and stop it.
Discussion related to pay packages
The discussion related to pay package and remuneration is the hardest one. The team member brings in lot of assumption but the hard fact may be different. As a manager I cannot reveal this information. But I do the discussion entirely using a imaginary pair of team members and just discuss the issue. By this I avoid comparing 2 real team members. For example if a team member says
“I get lesser salary than person X”
I do the discussion something like this
“Let us assume a person A joined during the year 2005 and person B joined the during 2009, Person A may be getting salary less than B but A gets a yearly retention bonus which is not given to person B”.
It is not possible to avoid this topic in performance review meeting. If I avoid, then the team member feels that I am not concerned regarding the team members growth. In performance review “Money is not the only factor but money is one among the important factor”.