This week’s guest column is written by Peter Couchman.

The morning news last week had a headline “Tell us about your worst job review” and this got me thinking.... Why is it that people dread their performance review?

From my experience there are a number of reasons but here are a few common ones.

  1. The fear of surprises during the meeting
  2. The fear of coming out of it beat up and demoralised
  3. Feeling unclear of the expectations and the measures

So why even have a job review? It’s a great question to consider because it all comes back to your purpose as a leader/manager which is to grow your people to achieve greater results and ultimately replace yourself.

To achieve, staff need a clear pathway forward, clear performance indicators and measures, and, the knowledge and skills growth to meet these. This is often where things tend to break down.

Performance, results and behaviours to achieve are frequently unclear, and, aren’t easily measured which leads to a mismatch of expectations. Compound this by only having the conversation annually and all of a sudden you realise there is a huge gap between expectations and what has been delivered! We now start to see why staff and even the manager dread reviews and subsequently why they aren’t done.

The first step to turning this around is to be crystal clear on the expectations and outcomes and how you’re going to measure them. Next get agreement on the outcomes so you can both understand the potential gap in the employee's skill set and what needs to be done to fix this.

This all sounds like a lot of work - it is, but once you're in the swing of it and, have their buy-in the performance review becomes a conversation about results and the reasons for the result. You as the manager are then able to manage the appropriate response and how they are progressing their development pathway.

A great place to start is with the conversation that’s in your head, start calling the job description a Performance Results Description, PRD. These are the results I need and here are the performance criteria that will achieve them.

The incredible leverage that is gained from effective performance documents such as a PRD can't be underestimated as these are key to creating more time for you to work on your business and achieve the results you're aiming for.

Peter Couchman is the Managing Director of Dale Carnegie Wellington, and a previous Chairperson of the Porirua Chamber of Commerce. He has many years in leading his own companies and in the corporate world. Peter also works one on one with focused leaders looking to achieve the next level.