Performance reviews is to improve performance. The review is usually dedicated to two things:

  1. To determine what skills are missing and to find ways to remedy that lack;
  2. To intensify the people’s motivation in order to get them on a higher performance curve for the same skill level.

They should be part of managerial practice in organizations of any size and kind. The long and short of it: if performance matters in your operation, performance reviews are absolutely necessary.

Two aspects of the review, assessing performance and delivering the assessment, are equally difficult.

Potential trap

One big pitfall to be avoided is the “potential trap.” At all times you should force yourself to assess performance, not potential. It is very important to assess actual performance, not appearances; real out-put, not good form.

For a poor performer, the supervisor tends to concentrate heavily on ways he can improve performance, providing detailed and elaborate “corrective action programs,” step-by-step affairs meant to ensure that the marginal employee can pull himself up to meet minimum requirements.

Performance reviews of superstars

Shouldn’t we spend more time trying to improve the performance of our superstars ? After all, these people account for a disproportionately large share of the work in any organization.Put another way, concentrating on the superstars is a high-leverage activity: if they get better, the impact on group output is very great indeed.

We all have a hard time saying things that are critical, whether we’re talking to a superior employee or a marginal one. We must keep in mind, however, that no matter how stellar a person’s performance level is, there is always room for improvement.

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