Most workers do not feel that their employee performance reviews are valuable. That is what Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 Company, discovered when he surveyed students in a business course he teaches at the University of San Diego.
The problem, according to Ridge, is that most performance systems are used for the wrong reasons. They are either arbitrary, conducted out of habit, or they are used just in case it is ever necessary to document evidence to fire someone. Ridge thinks that performance reviews should be used to develop people—not to evaluate them.
It’s a philosophy he shares with Ken Blanchard and which they wrote about in their book Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy Called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A.”
According to Blanchard and Ridge, managers need to move away from evaluating people and instead focus on coaching and helping people get A’s. For managers ready to embrace coaching instead of evaluating, the two authors recommend the following three steps:
- Set clear goals. All good performance starts with clear goals. Make sure that objectives and performance standards are established.
- Provide day-to-day coaching. This is where a manager observes and monitors the performance of his or her people, praising progress and redirecting where necessary.
- No surprises at the annual review. The biggest difference in the Helping People Win at Work approach is that the annual review is not used as an end-of-the-year evaluation tool. Instead, it is used throughout the year as a guide to how managers and direct reports work together to help employees get A’s.
When you help people win at work, both the organization and the employees benefit.
As Ridge explains, “When employees have clear expectations, meaningful work, and day-to-day support, it impacts their level of engagement. At WD-40, our engagement number is 93%, which I believe is three times the average. It means that people come to work doing things that mean something to them, that they feel is making a difference in the world today, and that is developing them internally as well.
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