Learning to love performance reviews

How do you make the performance review process work for you?

While a few businesses have ditched the performance review process completely, most hold on to it in some form or another. When such a system is not managed well it can cause issues within a workplace, but when it is conducted regularly, consistently, transparently and with ownership equally spread between staff and management, it can make a positive difference.

SEEK research revealed that over half (58%) of New Zealanders who do not have any form of performance appraisal system at work wish they did. Their achievements and efforts would be better recognised, they say, and opportunities for development and advancement would be formally identified.

SEEK research revealed that over half (58%) of New Zealanders who do not have any form of performance appraisal system at work wish they did.

Half (51%) of the non-appraised group say the lack of performance review actually holds back their career progression.

For New Zealanders who do receive appraisals at work, 91% see value in feedback on their performance, and interestingly, 94% believe informal feedback is of greater value than formal appraisals.

So how do employees best prepare for a performance review in order to maximise its results for them as an individual?

  • Take charge! The secret to making the process work for you is in the ownership, experts say. If a staff member sees the performance appraisal as something owned by their manager then they will not prepare for it, encourage its success or feel engaged in the process.

    “Always think about how your personal goals align to the broader business strategy,” says Michael Vavakis, Group Head of Human Resources at Lendlease. Vavakis has overseen sweeping and overwhelmingly positive (according to staff) changes to performance management systems across the global Lendlease business. Those changes put some of the ownership in the hands of the employees.
  • Be prepared. “Prepare for the conversation so you don't go in cold,” he says. “Think about the things that are going to be important for your career and for your wellbeing. Come to the conversation with notes. Preparation is key, otherwise the conversation can feel awkward.”

    Be proactive and confident about suggesting changes and refinements to the business, Vavakis recommends. Seek knowledge around the various structures in place within the business - support mechanisms for further education, flexible workplace policies, mentoring opportunities etc - in order to figure out what might work for you.

    “Become good at having quality conversations and at being helpful in a performance evaluation process,” he says. “These days the process is more about a greater regularity of conversations, but we still have work to do on the quality of conversations.”

Research results. What else did our research reveal? Here are some fast facts:

  • 41% don’t look forward to the appraisal process
  • 31% say formal appraisals are not a genuine reflection of their performance
  • 54% feel they are rewarded for strong performance at work
  • 72% have review sessions annually or every six months

What do Kiwis think of the outcome of their formal performance appraisals?

  • Around 66% say the process highlights areas in which they need to develop
  • 60% say it helps inform future goals
  • 38% believe it impacts possibility of pay increase
  • 25% said it would impact whether they would earn a promotion
  • 7% did not know of, or did not think there was, an actual outcome of their performance review