Perhaps “exciting” is not the way most employees would describe an annual review, yet reviews are a waypoint for career development. No one dedicates 5 of every 7 week days performing a series of tasks without concern over how well those tasks are executed. It is human nature to care. So how can employers and employees make the most of this exchange?
- Substance. For both employer and employee, make sure you think long and hard about what you want to convey. Better still, document examples that support the points you want to make throughout the year.
- Environment. Much of communication is non-verbal, so make the environment as conducive to positive, non-verbal communication as possible. Don’t put a big desk between you. Keep a relaxed tone. You are both there to make this work.
- Agenda. Structure the agenda like you would an essay: start with a summary, proceed with the main ideas, and then draw a conclusion. Lay out the groundwork in advance, and dive into each point in the allotted time.
- Interactive. Good conversations are bounded by the 60/40 rule. If someone talks more than 60% of the time, the other is left feeling like they were spoken to. Cover the necessary items, both the good and the bad, but make sure you both are speaking, more or less equally.
- Future expectations. These conversations are investments in the next set of work-related experiences, so make them constructive and prospective. Ensure that both understand what was said and agree to a framework around what is expected before the next review.
Reviews should be a positive experience, and with a little preparation, patience, and perhaps some empathy (for both), they can be a great use of time and, dare I say, even a little fun?