Performance Reviews assist in evaluating the performance of staff against agreed key performance indicators. A culture of performance of reviews should be embedded within the company or organisation to ensure that there is consensus on key outcomes and expectations.
The Local Government Act requires Councillors to assess the performance of their CEO on at least an annual basis and a similar model should be undertaken for committees of management in assessing their CEO or General Manager. Likewise businesses should ensure that reviews of staff are undertaken to identify key roles and responsibilities.
A performance review does not need to be an adversarial exercise but should be used to develop mutual guidelines on performance and anticipated outcomes for the next twelve months. The governing body, whether Councillors or a Committee of Management, should establish a timeframe for the review to be conducted and ensure also that future indicators are discussed.
Ensuring a consistent methodology
The governing body needs to agree on the methodology that will be adopted for the review as this ensures a consistent and robust approach as well as a fair and honest assessment on performance.
The CEO or General Manager should be encouraged to provide a self-assessment against the identified performance indicators and this feedback should be considered when evaluating performance. This will provide the opportunity to receive an update on each of the identified actions and help encourage discussion on each of the indicators.
A five-point or seven-point numerical scale should be used to provide comparable scoring and the ability to identify priority areas. Members of the governing body should evaluate performance fairly and provide feedback to highlight areas that need attention. The numerical rating should indicate areas where the CEO is performing above expectations and where further attention is required. Feedback should be used to provide guidance and to identify the reasons behind the score that was provided. Feedback and discussion is as important as the score itself as it helps identify expectations and establish parameters for the next twelve months.
Members of the governing body can collectively or individually complete the evaluation but the results should be consolidated to provide an overall context to the CEO or General Manager. It is imperative that members conduct the review without bias to provide an honest assessment. An independent facilitator can often assist in consolidating viewpoints and providing a collective opinion from the governing body.
Once completed the governing body should discuss the outcomes of the review with the CEO/General Manager to assist in understanding the findings. This discussion should enable all parties to speak openly and to provide guidance on areas that require improvement and the steps that can be taken to improve results.
Establishing future indicators
The performance review process should also include discussion on the performance indicators for the next twelve months. Indicators should be measurable and may include milestones that indicate the progress that is being made. Higher priority indicators could also include an interim review process so that performance can be measured without waiting another twelve months. The governing body and the CEO/General Manager should be in agreement in regard to any interim reviews that are required and the milestones that are expected to be achieved.
The CEO/General Manager should utilise the agreed performance indicators in setting priorities across the organisation. Other staff should be assessed on their performance against these indicators to ensure that the organisation is collectively working towards these outcomes. The CEO/General Manager should be following a similar review process for managers. Likewise, managers undertake reviews of the departmental staff and volunteers with position descriptions including an annual review process.
Outcomes from a Performance Review
A performance review should be seen as an opportunity to establish the priorities of the organisation and to establish key outcomes for the next twelve months. The review process should be a collaborative exercise, which helps build the capabilities of the governing body, staff and the organisation. A positive attitude to performance reviews can improve staff morale and encourage a focus on outcomes and the strategic direction of the organisation.
Review outcomes should be guided by the business plan of the organisation so that priorities are working towards the longer-term vision that has been identified. This ensures that an organisation is able to achieve the vision it has identified.