How to Write Future-Focused Performance Reviews
Are you ready to try a new slant in this year’s performance reviews? Here’s some advice based on my experience helping clients get results from a time-consuming, often stressful process.
To ensure that your reviews are meaningful, keep these five guidelines in mind:
Focus on accomplishments that have had the greatest impact on your business.
Use You instead of the person’s name. Think of senior management as legitimate eavesdroppers on your conversation with the team member, not your primary reader.
Stress HOW the person achieved results.
Always be specific.
Direct the person to take action — coaching to highlight the outcome desired more than the problem experienced.
Performance reviews don’t have to be limited to lists of accomplishments. They actually offer opportunities to treat the past as a learning experience and turn it into meaningful coaching advice. While that future-focused approach to reviews may be new to you, it’s quite easy to do. Using the STAR-FAR model explained below will help you look ahead after you highlight the past.
What was the task the team member accomplished or the situation the person faced as a challenge?
Example: You have effectively taken on the responsibility for leading monthly team meetings.
What specifically did the person do to handle that task?
Example: You’re always organized with a specific agenda that you circulate before the meeting.
What was the result of the person’s efforts?
Example: Everyone comes prepared to discuss important issues and the conversation is focused.
F/A: Future Action
What future action do you recommend based on the past?
Example: Try using a few simple PowerPoint slides to accent your main points.
What do you see as a potential result or benefit of that future action?
Example: Seeing the slide will help people remember what you stressed. When everyone understands exactly what to do, our projects will move ahead without delays as sometimes happened this year.
Here’s the STAR-FAR model in a paragraph that: (1) starts with the specific objective the person accomplished, (2) includes how he or she reached the objective, and (3) ends with coaching for the future:
You have effectively taken on the responsibility for leading monthly team meetings. Since you’re always organized with a specific agenda that you circulate before the meeting, everyone comes prepared to discuss important issues, and the conversation is focused. To take your new leadership role to the next level, try using a few simple PowerPoint slides that accent your main points. Seeing the slide will help people remember what you stressed, especially if you hand out a deck for people to use as a reference. When everyone understands exactly what to do, our projects will move ahead without delays as sometimes happened this year.
In that example, the manager gave credit for a job well done and followed with a focus on the future. Instead of accenting the negative fact that sometimes there were delays on projects, the manager analyzed the situation and offered advice on what might make a difference next year.