As an employer, talent is undeniably one of our greatest assets and if nurtured in the right way, can make contributions to the firm’s ongoing success which far exceed our expectations.
So how can we tailor our performance review process to ensure we are identifying and recognising our employees’ full potential, beyond the traditional appraisal?
The key is don’t just make it about performance. We are missing a trick if we don’t use that time to delve deeper and explore what makes your employee tick. Do they have as yet undiscovered talents that they could put to good use in your organisation? Can you generate value out of things they feel passionate about?
Before the appraisal
Not the day or even a week before, but make it an ongoing habit to observe what your employees appear to be enjoying about their work and things that they are able to successfully accomplish with relative speed, accuracy and finesse. Keep a note of these.
What interests do they talk about in their life outside of work that demonstrate a potential correlation with the working environment?
The appraisal itself
An employee’s appraisal should always be a two way conversation. Ideally the appraiser should be one who has already developed a trusted working relationship with the employee and is someone with whom the employee feels comfortable.
Make it a safe space where the employee feels they can express themselves openly, airing any concerns, addressing development points, and talking about aspirations.
From an employee’s perspective, it is a chance for them to affirm what they did well and receive recognition for that, but also an opportunity for self-reflection. This is the point at which you can really start to explore things together, which may well unearth hitherto unrecognised potential that can be utilised for maximum mutual benefit, leading to success both for your employee’s career, but also in terms of value add to the company.
The brain storm
Armed with the observations you have been gathering, engage your employee in a broader conversation about their future.
You may need to take the lead on this initially while your employee gets comfortable talking about ideas that may at first feel out of their comfort zone or beyond their perceived reach.
Thoughts on some touch points for that conversation include:
- Share your observations of the strengths that your employee has demonstrated to date and invite discussion around that.
- Ask your employee what strengths they feel they have and consider how these can be put to greater use within the organisation.
- Hone in on topics that your employee feels particularly passionate about. Can these be utilised to add value?
- Are there any achievements that your employee is particularly proud of and keen to replicate?
- Identify what your employee really enjoys about their work, but also the things that they find much less inspiring, or even draining.
- Discuss what impact they want to have professionally and personally.
- Start to build a vision of what this could lead to within the firm and what they could potentially achieve.
- Ask what matters to them in their career - is it money, status, social responsibility, making a difference? What are their career goals for the short and longer term?
- Is there an attribute your employee feels they have that could make a positive contribution to the firm?
- Consider the steps they would need to take to start to achieve these goals.
It’s a win win
At the end of the day, it’s about inspiring your employees, but also giving them the confidence (and of course the tools, whatever they may be) to take action.
If your employee is passionate about their role and enjoying what they are doing, they will be more driven and motivated to succeed. Enjoyment is of course very subjective, and it is generally unrealistic to expect to love every aspect of our jobs 100% of the time, but it is an important factor nonetheless. Whilst an employee may be fabulous at doing X, if X makes them miserable, giving them more of it just because they’re good at it, won’t ultimately bring your organisation the wins it is hoping for. It is more likely to lead to an unhappy employee who decides to pursue their career elsewhere. Aiming for a balance where the enjoyment outweighs any frustration feels like a much more achievable plan.
Furthermore, the more positive your employee feels about their prospects within the firm and the more these are aligned to shared personal and company goals, the more likely they are to perform at their highest potential. Ultimately employees want to feel partnered with their organisation, to feel that they are valued and that their contribution matters.
If you get that buy in, you’re onto a winner!
Sharon Furbank is a Tax Recruitment Director at Buckley Consulting Ltd – Connecting the right people. She was a tax professional herself for many years before specialising in tax recruitment. firstname.lastname@example.org