Professional Jeweler Archive: Performance Anxiety

May 2001


Performance Anxiety

A fresh approach to performance reviews: Let employees D-I-Y

The annual employee performance review is often as painful for managers as for employees, so some are junking the process and asking employees to review themselves.

“Corporate America has spent billions of dollars making this a pleasant experience, and the process doesn’t work because we’re doing it backward,” P.J. Smoot, a learning and development leader for International Paper, tells The Wall Street Journal.

Listen and Learn

It’s impossible to pass judgment accurately on everything an employee does, Smoot says. Instead, managers should listen and learn from their employees and then, by asking questions, guide them to a mutually agreed-upon performance plan for the coming year.

“Listen for understanding,” Smoot advises managers. “Then react honestly and constructively. Focus on business goals, not on the personality.”

A guide distributed to employees before reviews asks them to describe not just what they did the previous year, but what they did that mattered. It also asks for a description of something that didn’t go right and what the employee learned from it. “This says it’s OK not to be perfect,” says Smoot.

– by Mark E. Dixon

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications