Tuesday, October 29, 2013

H.A.T.'s off to you!

Around the office, October is annual review time.  It seems that every manager in the organization is scrambling to come up with information about their direct reports that should be included in an annual performance appraisal.  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  I have a general thought, that most leaders truly share, and that performance feedback should be a process, not a form.

As leaders, our direct and indirect reports should have an understanding of how they are performing throughout a review period.  Rather than looking at appraisals as a "have to do", look at this period as a "get to do". 

We all know when we are on our "A" game and when we are performing at a C+ level (at best).  We understand that we all have good days, and bad days.  When it comes to annual performance appraisals, they should not look at singular events, but a body of work in its entirety.  Much like the saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover", a leader conducting annual appraisals should look at a persons work in context.

I love this time of year for the following reasons, but in all honesty these are conversations that really need to be occurring throughout the year:

  • I get to celebrate successes of my direct reports
  • I get to another opportunity to provide formal feedback on how they have progressed throughout the year
  • I get to speak one on one and discuss an important topic, them
  • I get to learn a little more about what their expectations are of me as a leader
  • I get to provide my direct report focused feedback as to how they are developing and the direction that we mutually agree they want to go
  • I get to recognize the little things that they do that may be "just in a days work" for them, but make a big difference
Appraisals should never be a surprise for the recipient.  Throughout the year, it is important for leaders to provide consistent developmental feedback.  Development needs not be a negative, but rather a way to capitalize on individual accomplishments and continually setting more aggressive goals and challenging where the bar is set.

As a leader, I have been fortunate to be mentored and developed by true leaders who were interested in the development of others.  As a result, I make every attempt to instill this into the cultures I am a part of, and definitely with the teams I am associated with.  Working in a silo stifles vision and innovation.  Create a forward working culture through consistent and appreciative feedback.  When you do, it makes the annual appraisal a much easier process.

H.A.T.'s (Happy Appraisal Time) off to you if you have culture, environment, a style as described above!

Have a great week!!


  1. I have to say that in my career, I never did get a negative appraisal. So I didn't dread the appraisal process at all, but looked at it as valuable one on one time with my boss. But I admired his leadership skills in that he did give me great feedback throughout the year.

  2. Excellent points! Even though appraisal time can be a stressful time for leaders it can also be a rewarding time of the year. It's a great time for leaders to recognize successes and to provide feedback on opportunities and areas of growth for direct reports.

    Happy writing!

  3. It is important to realize that even if your appraisal isn't perfect it is a learning experience that helps you grow. :-)

  4. Appraisals were something I can't recall too much of the content of, likely because they were as you said, kind of an isolated experience tied to an increase in salary. I'd like to think I learned from that when I became a manager - bringing in mini-appraisals, tied to nothing except looking to praise and inspire someone. I'd LIKE to think I did.

  5. I've dreaded performance reviews, even though I've always had good experiences. The pressure! The anticipation! Of course, once it's over, it's nowhere near as bad as you thought. As a freelancer, I don't have formal appraisals, but I make a point of reviewing my work regularly and - you guessed it - I'm my own worst critic!