Five Things Not to Do During Annual Reviews

Over the last two weeks I have had the honor of sitting down with some of my staff to conduct annual reviews. This is always a good time because it gives us a chance to look into the future and not so much the past. And to most this unfortunately sounds wrong because they spend the time informing their staff members of how they have not met expectations and how they can improve on that.

Now I have only been in the position to conduct annual reviews for two years now, but I feel like I have learned a lot in these two years. I am still learning and pushing to get better, but there are a few things I have learned.

Here 5 things that may be causing you problems in your annual review:

1. You Don’t Prepare

Be sure to have some type of structure or review/evaluation sheet to use as you prep for the review. Usually your organization has some form of evaluation form, but if not be sure to create your own. Take the evaluation form and be sure to fill it out completely and spend a decent amount of time thinking back over the past year. This is your moment to “officially” pour into your staff. Do not forget to prep.

2. You Don’t Share Your Expectations Throughout the Year

If you do not share your expectations throughout the year, don’t expect the review to go very well. It’s your job as a leader to lead your staff throughout the entire year by sharing with them when they are meeting expectations/job requirements or not. Believe me, your staff would rather you tell them when they begin to move off course and not at the end the year. Trust that your staff wants to do their best and the way for them to do that is by having one-on-one time throughout the year. Do not forget to share your expectations during the year.

3. You Don’t Let Them Respond

I once sat in a review at an old job while in my early years of college and I was not given one moment to respond and ask questions during my review. The review went for the most part real well, but I did have questions about some of the expectations that I was not meeting. Unfortunately I was not able to get much clarity on the topics and left with not much vision or motivation. Be sure as you share both the strengths and the weakness (aka: opportunities for improvement) you let your staff respond, ask questions, disagree, agree, etc. The point here is to be sure there is a conversation happening during the review. Do not forget to let them respond.

4. You Don’t Let Them Share their Thoughts

This I guess could be part 2 of the above point. At the end of each review I have with my staff I now allow for 30–45 mins of time to be theirs. After we go through my thoughts and structure I open up the time for them to share how they feel. It’s their time to let me know how they feel I am doing & our organization. This may seem backwards during a review session, but believe me this is one of the best times you can have to walk out of your office on the same page. Your staff most likely are very passionate and smart people. They are also the people with their so-called “boots on the ground” in their specific areas. So listen when they show signs of worry, stress, hesitation, etc. What I have learned is just because I am higher up the org chart and been around longer does not mean I have the best idea in the room nor the real-time data like someone who works in the trenches each day. This does not mean you automatically take their ideas and run with them. Just be sure to give their thoughts the weight they deserve. They are most likely carrying out the work you will be putting into play. So do not forget to let them share their thoughts.

5. You Don’t Lose the Desk

This is a simple one. Get out from behind your desk. Move to a coffee table, couches, booth, picnic table, etc. Anything will work other than putting a desk in between you and your staff member. I learned this from my boss/mentor Chris Kuhne. The boss’ desk has some type of stigma with it and it’s best to tear down that barrier. Do not forget to find that coffee table.


This is my first time back at writing, so I apologize for the grammar (which I am terrible at), but I did want to start sharing my thoughts. My favorite author John Maxwell says Leadership is influence, and I want to share what I have learned throughout the years with others. I hope you find this article helpful and if so, feel free to share it with a friend.

2 replies
  1. Chris Kuhne
    Chris Kuhne says:

    Hey Paschal… great stuff. Reviews seem like a necessary evil that HR wants done, but when you prepare and see it as a way to do an intentional coaching/investment in your team, then it can be very beneficial. Love the point that it can’t happen just once per year though. A definition of clarity and expectations should happen throughout the year. I love what Perry Noble said, “I cannot hold someone accountable for unspoken or unclear expectations.”

    Reply

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