Performance Reviews that Build Better Workers

Categories: Global Leadership, Global Teams, GlobeSmart

How to Empower Your Employees

Traditional performance reviews tend to be superficial. They consider job responsibilities, whether those responsibilities have been fulfilled satisfactorily, and well, little else.

This is a disservice to employees. Performance reviews need to explain why an employee is successfully meeting expectations, so they can continue to thrive, or if an employee isn’t meeting standards, their shortcomings need to be stated explicitly.

The more specific performance review feedback gets, the more helpful it is for a worker to grow and improve in their role.

As we know, individuals can have very different work-styles, which contribute to the success (or failure) of an individual in a role. We also know that becoming aware of one’s work-style allows for the opportunity to style switch and adapt to make the necessary changes to become successful in a role.

If you’re going to take the time to do performance reviews, make it worthwhile for both you and your employee. Delve deeper than “satisfactory,” and give your staff members constructive, actionable feedback by focusing on individual work style.

What is an individual work style?

Every individual works in a unique way.

Based on our research, individual work style can be better understood through the following five dimensions of culture:

  • Identity Derivation: Independent vs. Interdependent
    On one end of the spectrum, independent individuals derive their sense of identity strictly from individual choices and achievements. On the other end of the spectrum, interdependent individuals derive their sense of identity through group affiliations and group success, harmony, and cooperation.
  • Group Structure & Power Distribution: Egalitarianism vs. Status
    Individuals who believe power and authority should be distributed evenly among a group lean towards the egalitarian end of this scale. Individuals who believe power and authority are best left in the hands of a few lean towards the status end of the scale.
  • Decision Making: Risk vs. Certainty
    Individuals that prefer to make quick decisions to get quick results, and value initiative and flexibility lean closer to the risk end of the decision-making scale. Individuals that prefer thoroughness, in-depth research and procedures lean closer to the certainty end of the decision-making scale.
  • Communication: Direct vs. Indirect
    Individuals who are direct communicators don’t mind asking questions publicly, get to the point quickly, and are upfront when giving negative feedback or disagreeing with someone. Individuals who are indirect communicators avoid asking questions publicly, spend time discussing context before getting to the point, and express disagreement or give negative feedback in a subtle way.
  • Project Priorities: Task vs. Relationship
    Individuals that prioritize accomplishing goals and objectives over maintaining relationships lean towards the task end of the project-priority spectrum. Individuals that prioritize building and maintaining relationships, and believe relationships are the key to achieving good results, lean towards the relationship end of the project-priority spectrum.

See sample comparison of individual work styles:

Why Are Work-Style-Based Performance Reviews So Impactful?

1. They Make Performance Reviews Less Personal

This might seem counterintuitive but think again. Instead of telling an employee that they failed to meet a certain standard, you can empower your workers by explaining how their current work-style does not align with a task for which they are responsible. This doesn’t mean they are a “bad worker,” on the contrary, they simply need to redirect their energy to style switch.

It’s not personal; it’s just about work style.

For example…
An employee is more task-oriented than relationship-oriented, and it is holding them back from advancing sales leads. They are focused on the process and moving too fast; they aren’t taking the time to form trusting relationships with potential leads.

Instead of telling an employee they simply aren’t meeting expectations, you can reference their work style and encourage them to try a relationship-first approach. Offer ideas to help them style switch, or better yet, ask your employees what support they need to become more comfortable.

2. They Create An Open Dialogue

Conventional performance appraisals give off a huge power imbalance. They tend to be more like a report card than an appraisal. Instead of management handing down a “pass or fail,” performance reviews that focus on work style, open up a safe space to discuss the nuances of the employee’s role, and how they currently function in it.

It allows the employee to reflect and consider their work style, and how they can style switch in areas to perform better. It generates a two-way conversation, so you can actively help your workers grow and improve, as they communicate what exactly they need to be successful.

3. They Bring the Whole Team Into Consideration

Every member of your team has a particular work style. Some work styles might be compatible; others might not. The good news is, once you have this knowledge and common language to use, you can easily address miscommunication and team breakdowns by addressing work styles.

Performance reviews are a great opportunity to discuss how an employee interacts with members of the team. It’s an ideal time to provide positive feedback as well as constructive criticism that focuses on more effective interactions through style switching.

For example…
You have an account manager that is not accustomed to working within a hierarchy and leans toward the egalitarian end of the power distribution scale. They tend to go over a project manager’s head to get work done. The project manager, however, leans towards the status end of the power distribution scale, as they come from hierarchical company culture.

Instead of writing a negative performance review, you can explain how the employee’s work style doesn’t align with the project manager’s style. This allows you to provide concrete, actionable feedback that will help your workers go through the proper communication channels, and improve their relationship with the project manager. It also allows the worker to exercise their egalitarian-oriented work style when they are not working on projects with this particular employee.

Remember, the more specific you get with performance reviews, the more you are helping your employees grow and improve in their roles.

Do you know what your work style is? Take the GlobeSmart Profile to find out.