How to Make Annual Reviews More Meaningful

Entrepreneur and coach Kim Latko shares 3 strategies for taking annual reviews from a chore to a chance to empower and inspire.

The employee review process is a cornerstone in any organization, but let’s face it. We often miss the mark and fail to provide real value to employee and manager alike.

We talked with Kim Latko, one of the expert facilitators for our Manager Development Program. Kim’s experience as an entrepreneur, owner, COO, and coach make her an invaluable trainer for managers who want to build business and lead with intelligence and empathy.

Here are three strategies she recommends for managers to make annual reviews more impactful mechanisms for growth and improvement:

1. Make it Monthly

First, let’s not just review someone annually. I like the idea of scorecards monthly. Quarterly could work for longer projects, but monthly is usually best.

This gives you a comprehensive understanding of an employee’s contributions, not just recent activity. You’re really paying attention throughout the year. You’re engaged and looking at their whole performance. This has a lot of impact for the employee.

2. Keep Score

The second strategy is to have metrics and a dashboard for each employee. They should have real measurable about their activities and performance throughout the year.

Everybody loves to win, and as leaders, we’re coaches. We’re coaching employees to win on a monthly or quarterly basis.

It only makes sense that we keep score. Tell the employee what we’re keeping score of (the metrics) and where (the dashboard). Have them keep score throughout the year. By the time the annual review rolls around, you’re not just looking at a snapshot. You and the employee can see the trends and find ways to win more and be a high performer.

3. Use “Keep, Stop, Start” Conversations

Third, have a section in the review for “Keep, Stop, Start.” This is where you invite your employee to talk about what they would like to keep doing. What do they believe is effective? What should be stopped? What should they start doing?

And I like to focus on the “start doing” – how can I help you be a better performer? How I can help this be more fulfilling for you and get you where you want to go?

Take time to map out the next steps in the employee’s journey. Set new goals together for the upcoming year. You create a lot of meaning and impact in this process.

No Surprises

When executed effectively, these three strategies not only make the annual review more impactful but also eliminate unwanted surprises.

If your employee is blindsided during a review, that’s on you as a leader. A well-designed review process leaves no room for “I had no idea” moments.

Use frequent scorecards, clear metrics, and goal setting dialogues to make annual reviews an empowering experience for yourself and the people you lead.

Your Turn

Now, we want to hear from you. What strategies do you use to make annual reviews more meaningful? Any tips for what to avoid?

Share your thoughts with us over on LinkedIn.

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