Performance reviews often are dreaded and poorly understood. Managers want to avoid feedback that is not positive, and subordinates are liable to feel defensive when praise is not forthcoming. So, here at Giroux, we don’t let negativity or discomfort creep into our processes. I was tasked with improving the performance review system. After doing some research and engaging in intensive conversations with employees on all levels, I was able to put together a format that works beautifully and (mostly) avoids tension and disappointment.
Today, our performance reviews are geared toward coaching and empowering each partner. They are designed to help people succeed by reviewing detailed and established performance standards and providing feedback. The purpose of the review is to encourage each employee to strive for the next level of performance. Personal development is as important to us at Giroux as the development of skills. Maintaining a person’s dignity, even if shortcomings in the performance need to be discussed, is mandatory. The review also is a tool to reinforce everybody’s understanding of their importance to our Giroux Glass team.
Successfully implementing the new system was not always easy, and required additional training for our managers. The fact that we changed the rating scale so that “3” (on a scale from 1 to 5) is now considered “excellent performance” was, at first, resented. Partners wanted their managers to tell them specifically what they would need to do to earn a “5” rating.
That was my challenge to communicate. We insisted that the top rating is reserved for those individuals who have ideas and who perform at levels that were never expected. It is for those who perform actions that could not have been pre-defined or requested, accomplishments that are above and beyond their job descriptions. Our challenge was to make it understood that an excellent (i.e., “3”), but not extraordinary performance, is a rating for which everyone should feel proud. Our goal is for everyone to accept that future leaders are the ones who do the unexpected, whose achievements improve the company and everybody in it. It turns out that most of our partners don’t necessarily have the goal of becoming the company leader: that they now understand and are quite satisfied with being rated as a “3” performer at their current jobs.
Along with the yearly performance reviews, Giroux conducts quarterly reviews on the progress of goals agreed-upon during the annual review. All supervisors also have weekly “Level-10” meetings to discuss everybody’s tasks and progress. There is also a very short weekly meeting with each manager’s direct report to ensure that everybody has the tools needed, and check if additional support is needed.
There are benefits to having this kind of continual review process in place. Personally, as a recipient of this kind of performance review, I feel encouraged, appreciated and motivated to give the job my best. It’s encouraging to me to know that many of our partners feel the same way. But most importantly, the performance review is one of the most important tools we use to continually improve our service to our customers, whose satisfaction is our top company goal.