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What I Learned From My Annual Review

Human Resources

I make a point to check in with my staff regularly. Whether it’s the scheduled monthly one-on-one or a quick hallway discussion, they know they can always reach out for feedback and advice. As 2013 came to a close, I put together plans for their annual reviews. This was the chance to step away from the little details and look at the big picture.

Speaking of the big picture, I quickly realized there was no one to tell me how I was doing. It’s easy to hear about good things. What about the negative items? Things employees talk about behind their bosses back? How can I fix something I don’t know about?

How did we do it?

To make sure they were able to talk freely, I paid for my staff to go to Happy Hour. That’s right, the boss paid for the staff to drink and discuss the boss. Unheard of!

I kept it casual and let them figure out what format worked best for them. I encouraged them to research annual reviews to get ideas for things they could discuss.

Am I Crazy?

When I first heard the happy hour lasted four hours, I didn’t know what to think. Did they spend the whole time reviewing me? What was so bad that it took four hours to discuss?!

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Whatever it was, I knew I had to hear it. Their feedback could only make the company stronger. This was their chance to get things out there.

What did I learn?

I sometimes throw them in the deep end without knowing how to swim

No boss (at least that I would want to know) likes to hear that his or her staff felt “setup for failure.” It wasn’t overall, just with one specific part of their job descriptions. Since we got to talk openly about it, I eased their concerns and we came up with a solution moving forward.

They appreciate a good challenge

Despite sometimes being overwhelmed, they like being trusted with projects. I don’t micromanage and that’s appreciated.

They realize how hard I work

“We want you to get sleep” was number two on their list. Apparently they’ve noticed the late night and weekend emails. Plus, unlike clients, they want to do their part to make it stop. Imagine that!

The experience was invaluable.

My staff appreciated the chance to address concerns. I appreciated the feedback. We all got way more out of it than the cost. So why aren’t more companies doing this?

Why aren’t more companies doing this?

The only thing I can think of is that they are afraid to hear the results. Of course, I would argue if that is your concern, it could prove even more valuable. Being in touch with my staff is one of the most important parts of my job.

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