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In-House Business Startup Journal Part 9: Performance Reviews

By Andy Brenits

Well, it’s that time of year again for many corporate creatives… the year-end performance review cycle has begun again. Unlike many of my colleagues on the outside, I need to follow a prescribed process whereby I self-evaluate my performance against several goals (SMART ones) for both the business and my own professional development.

As if providing an evaluation to my boss about my own work wasn’t hard enough, I’ll also need to review the evaluations my staff wrote about themselves. And if I’m very lucky, no one has any delusions of grandeur about their accomplishments (or lack thereof), including me.

Unfortunately, as a manager there does come the time when you need to deliver some not-so-good news to an employee about their performance. But if you’ve done your job as a manager it should not come as a surprise when you do. While formal performance reviews – often coupled with ratings from “needs improvement” to “exceeds expectations” – are conducted twice per year, you should still be having regular conversations with your staff about how they are doing, whether it’s to offer praise for a job well done or counseling for an issue of some kind.

You can’t be afraid to give those negative reviews though. To be blunt, it’s how you justify the termination of someone who isn’t pulling his or her weight. Or in the case of a headcount reduction, the poor performers are shown the door before a solid one is.

On the upside, a good performance review is just as gratifying to give as it is to receive. If you’ve been having regular conversations with your staff, catching the small mishaps before they become big performance issues, then you’re likely to have mostly positive reviews to give.

Andy Brenits has had the privilege of managing creative services start-up operations for four organizations in his 20 year career. The In-House Business Startup Journal is an amalgamation of his experiences leading creative services businesses and the trials and tribulations of getting things up and running to a sustainable state. Names have been changed to protect the innocent or those who should have known better.