I just finished a rough draft for new job performance reviews at my church, and it got me thinking about what makes a review go well. Here are five tips I hope aren’t painfully obvious.
1. Nothing should be a surprise, nothing should be news. The review is not the time to unload weapons grade negative feedback. It should be at least the second time he or she has heard it. The first time should be immediately after the mistake was made. Nor should this be the first time you specifically give encouraging feedback on a job well done. Give feedback, both positive and negative, all the time.
2. Don’t rush. It takes time to break the ice. It takes time to get beneath the surface. Shoot for 90 minutes to make sure that you hit all the important points.
3. Surround each criticism with encouragement. When it is time to give constructive criticism, surround it with encouragement: encouragement, criticism, encouragement. This is a good rule of thumb, I think, whether you it’s easy or difficult for you to give negative feedback. That will help you to be neither too harsh, nor to avoid conflict. Having surrounded your criticism with encouragement, when you talk about developing over the next year, you can address the issues without the padding, and talk about any problems themselves.
4. Aim to grow strengths, not weaknesses. Even though this has been addressed by numerous authors, I still hear too many people talk about improving your weaknesses. The most return on effort isn’t to grow your weaknesses, but to grow your strengths. If you want to learn more about this, check out why focusing on weaknesses wastes employee training and learn five ways to neutralize your weaknesses. If you want to help your others pastors and support staff learn their strengths and how to use them, check out the Strengths Finder series and books by Marcus Buckingham.
5. Give 10’s. It is a practice of some to never give the highest marks on the review in order to say, “There’s always room for improvement.” Of course there is. But you say that and still give the highest marks if they are deserved. I suggest that you give the 10 if they earned it, with the understanding that if they stay at the same level this year, they will drop to a 9. If they continue to grow and develop, they keep the 10.