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Settling the annual review debate

By Eric Rojas

In HR and management circles, there is a raging debate over whether or not to do annual reviews.

staffmanagementAll of Christ Community Church’s 120-plus employees are currently at the end of our fiscal year annual review season. Between now and June 30, each employee will receive a year-end review that takes place once a year at this time. It is a very systematic and organized process.

So, you can guess from our process that I am a believer in annual reviews. Well, I am — but you might be surprised at my answer to the annual review debate. Should an organization, business or church conduct annual reviews?

My answer is a resounding “maybe”. Let me explain.

I do feel that annual reviews are a tremendous tool for an organization and its employees if done thoroughly, with excellence and employing several important key concepts. However, if not done thoroughly, if done without high excellence and if executed without the right principles, annual reviews can be a train wreck. I believe that most of those leaders that are against the annual review process have only experienced a poor process.

Let me outline the four keys to a great annual review.

Key #1: The process must be comprehensive in evaluation and feedback.

If the review process is just one person’s opinion and doesn’t look at the whole of the employee’s contribution, then it is a flawed process. The key is to make sure that the supervisor receives input from people that work with the employee and work for the employee, and maybe there are some dotted-line supervisors or influencers, and perhaps even some customers or volunteers. This could be done through surveys, conversations or a 360 feedback process.

The annual review should look at accomplishing goals, living out the organization’s key values and achieving any additional work that was asked of employees or they took on themselves. The review process should also allow for employees to give their perspective, feedback and opinion of how the past year went. If a church doesn’t tackle a comprehensive approach to the review process, then it should scrap the process altogether.

Key #2: The process must be a review of the year and rarely should have new information.

The goal of the review process is to … well … review. Too often, reviews bring a bunch of new information to the attention of employees, and they leave shell-shocked. That should not be the case. The review should highlight the joys and the challenges of the year. It should look for themes that developed over the year. It should also bring some summary of the year.

However, the goal should be to make a review and not an unveiling of new information. The exception to this principle is if new information or perspective develops from the 360 process. If a business can’t focus on the review aspect of an annual review, then it should scrap the review.

Key #3: The process must provide a go-forward plan for the employee.

While the process is a review, there should be a preview of how employees can build on the accomplishments of the past year and a preview of how they can improve in areas that need to be improved on. While this is officially “new” information, it’s new information about the future, not the past. If an organization can’t focus on the go-forward plan, the “so what” of the review, then it should scrap it.

Key #4: The process must be executed with love, honesty, guts and prayer.

Way too often, I see or hear about supervisors that are too chicken to speak the hard truth or give the honest evaluation. I have seen or heard about supervisors who aren’t loving with their critique or feedback. They leave employees feeling devalued, unwanted and frustrated.

Too often, I see or hear about supervisors who just want to focus on the challenges and don’t celebrate the wins and the accomplishments. Far too often, I see or hear about supervisors who aren’t prayed up going into this very important time in the employee’s life. This is also a principle that the Bible lines out for us in Ephesians 4:15 — “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” It’s a part of our maturity as followers of Christ. If a church, business or organization can’t execute the review with love, honesty, guts and prayer, then they should scrap it.

Do you see why my answer to the annual review debate is a definitive “maybe”? Should a company do a review? Maybe. If it can employ these four keys, then the answer is a definite yes! If it can’t execute the vast majority of these review keys, then the answer is a resounding no. There — debate settled.

A final word to moms and dads, coaches and others who aren’t official bosses or supervisors: I still believe in the annual review. Find a time to sit with your kids, your players, your spouse, etc., and just talk about how the past year has gone. Let the people you lead know how you’re feeling. Ask them how they’re feeling and talk about some goals for the coming year.

Live well. Lead well.

EricRojasEric Rojas loves his role as the executive pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL, where he oversees a staff of 120 and serves alongside Senior Pastor Jim Nicodem. He has been on staff at CCC since 2000. During his 20+ years of ministry, Rojas has served in churches as a youth pastor, adult ministries pastor, small groups pastor, associate pastor, worship pastor and men’s pastor. He is a contributing author for Group Publishing’s Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century and has written for various magazines and websites. Rojas also serves the church-at-large through consulting and seminar presenting. He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 22 years. They have 3 children — Luke, 21; Adam, 19; and Chloe, 17. A man of faith, Rojas believes that next year is the year the Cubs will finally win the World Series.



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