Research has shown that only one in three employees actually makes changes based on performance feedback.  As we near the end of another year, Helene Vermaak, Director at The Human Edge, an organisational culture expert, says that 43% of employees experience a ‘déjà vu performance review’ – negative performance feedback that surfaces year after year.

Change is tough, new behaviours are often difficult, uncomfortable or even painful, whereas old behaviour is familiar and routine.  Detailed performance feedback is important yet it is not enough to change behaviour says Vermaak.  “One of the reasons performance reviews are largely ineffective is that employees lack the ability to put their performance feedback into action.”  A previous online poll conducted by The Human Edge’s international partner, VitalSmarts found that 87% of respondents left their review without a plan to be able to meet their managers’ expectations.

Vermaak provides employees with these tips to make the most of their performance reviews:

  1. Ask for detailed feedback. Specific, behavioural feedback of both your accomplishments and challenges allows you to know the exact behaviours to replicate and change. After receiving detailed feedback, let your manager know you are eager to learn and improve.
  2. Visit your default future. Motivate yourself to change by visiting your “default future”.  This is the career you will be stuck with if you fail to improve performance and are repeatedly passed over for promotion.
  3. Invest in professional development. New habits always require new skills, so actively develop the skills you need.  Remember, this should only be one part of a bigger change strategy.
  4. Find a mentor. Changing habits requires help. Find a trusted mentor to encourage your progression and help you navigate the career development opportunities that exist within your company.
  5. Put skin in the game. Tie your performance to your compensation such as making your year-end bonus dependant on your ability to hit your improvement goals. Alternatively, set aside a portion of your salary. If you hit your goals, reward yourself at the end of the year.
  6. Control your workspace. Make new habits easier by enlisting the power of your surroundings. For example, if you would benefit from a close association with another team, ask to move offices.
  7. Let your manager see your advances. Eagerly continue on the path to high performance. Nothing heals the wounds of disappointment like surprising and delighting your manager in the future.

“Without a performance improvement plan targeting the personal, social and environmental sources, employees will continue to receive the same negative feedback and miss out on raises and promotions they may have otherwise received,” warns Vermaak.

In conclusion, Vermaak says that with the right set of skills, employees can turn their managers’ feedback into a multifaceted change plan to improve performance and make a greater contribution to their company.