Annual Performance Review Time – Culture Drives Performance!

October is a big month for annual performance reviews. Whether you conduct your reviews now, or are just getting ready for year-end reviews, these discussions are critical in helping build your culture, and culture drives performance.  

The Benefit of Incorporating Culture and Values into Performance Reviews

A key element of any performance review is ensuring that team members understand how they are performing and how their contributions help the organization deliver on its objectives. But it isn’t just about individual job performance anymore or how it helps the organization meet objectives. Now, more than ever, people are joining (or leaving) organizations because of workplace culture. And all organizations are looking for ways to create a best-in-class culture that helps attract and retain top talent.

Culture has become such an important factor in driving or hindering organizational performance, that it needs to be incorporated into your performance management strategy. This is especially true if the annual performance review is one of the only formal touchpoints you have with your employees, other than their first day or new hire orientation. If that’s the case, the annual review is your best opportunity to clarify expectations, reward your brand ambassadors, and reinforce the behaviours you want to see.

How to Integrate Your Culture and Values into Performance Reviews

So you’re onboard with incorporating Culture and Values into Performance Reviews. But where do you start? Consider a balanced scorecard approach. Successful businesses have long been using balanced scorecards, that look at multiple performance factors, to evaluate and review the health of their organizations. For organizations the typical components are Finance, Customer, Internal Processes, and Learning and Growth, and are all equally weighted and considered in the review. So why not take a similar balanced approach when designing or redesigning your performance reviews, but adjust the weighting to suit your needs?

If you have a robust Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and EVP Pillars that are well known by the organization, evaluate how well your employees and leaders are living your Employer Brand, as well as how they are performing in their roles. If you don’t have an EVP, start with your company values. Look at the degree to which an individual is living your values, as well as their job performance, before coming up with an overall performance rating. 

When clear goals and objectives are set and measured at an individual level, you build transparency, trust, and ownership that positions your individual employee for success in their role. When employees’ objectives ladder up to the organization’s goals and are aligned with your culture and Employee Value Proposition (EVP) as well, you position the whole organization for success. When the individual succeeds AND your culture thrives, the whole organization succeeds.

Aside from the Review, What Other Performance Management Components Support Culture?

Aside from the review itself, there are many components of a performance management system that can help support your workplace culture:

  • Expectation Setting: it’s a leader’s role to set the expectations for job performance, both in terms of what work is performed (performance targets) and how it is performed (quality of work, contribution to organizational culture). Whether you revamp your performance review or not, ensure that leaders understand the types of behaviours that contribute to your organizational culture, and that they reinforce those with their teams.
  • 360 feedback: what better way to assess an individual’s impact on team and culture, than by soliciting feedback from their team? Giving everyone a voice is not only something that can contribute to an inclusive, impartial performance appraisal process, but it can also help quantify a person’s impact on workplace culture.
  • Self-assessment: having employees perform an assessment of their own performance and behaviour helps to build a culture of ownership and self-awareness, and lends a high degree of credibility to the overall performance management process. 

And it goes without saying, a  performance discussion should never involve big “surprises” or unexpected news, and it should always be a two-way process. Your people should know exactly what’s coming – not because the conversations are predictable, but because constructive feedback should be part of an ongoing discussion where both parties participate and are invested in a positive outcome. If your vision is to have an inclusive, open, best-in-class culture, your performance reviews should be conducted in a way that supports that culture.

Does Your Performance Review Process Need a Refresh?

“At the highest level, a performance directed culture is one in which everyone is actively aligned with the organization’s mission; transparency and accountability [are] at the norm, new insights are acted on in unison, and conflicts are resolved positively and effectively.” 

Source: How Corporate Culture Affects Performance Management, Howard Dresner, Chief Research Officer

Here are some questions that will help you evaluate your annual performance review process and determine whether it is helping you meet organizational objectives and foster a best-in-class culture:

  • “Does our performance review process help people connect their behaviours to our values and vision”
  • “Does our performance review process reward brilliant jerks?”
  • “Are we clarifying and recognizing the behaviours we want to see?”
  • “Does our current culture align with our aspirational vision of culture?”
  • “Do we have a magnetic positive workplace culture that helps attract and retain top talent”

If your answer to any of the above questions was no, or you’re not sure, call Blu Ivy today at 647-308-2352 to find out how we can help you build a best-in-class culture.

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