Annual Growth Conference – More Than a Performance Review

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Melissa Smith

No company can afford to let talented team members slip through their fingers. To attract and retain quality employees, especially in these times, it’s vital to provide outstanding communication and the opportunity for growth. Whether it’s at regular informal meetings or annual reviews. However, for many, instantaneous dread is the immediate reaction to merely mentioning an “annual performance review.” Is there anything we can do better?

Are Two-Way Conversations Happening?

I was 27 and working as a hygienist for two whole years before I received any feedback on my performance. One of the categories I was evaluated on was “creativity and initiative.” I will never know why I was rated as a “70-79” instead of higher. I was never invited to share my perspective! The floor wasn’t open for discussion, period.

In the section “accomplishments or new abilities demonstrated since the last review,” was penned in, “new mommy!” If given the opportunity, I could have enlightened my boss by sharing my perspective on rolling out all the skills I had accumulated over the last couple of years and detailing what they were.

Are you open to the possibility that you may not have all of the information when meeting with employees? Reality and truth may not be straightforward all of the time. Perspective is a tricky thing! Make sure you’re asking for the perspective of all parties involved.

Truth is a matter of perspective

Are Your Annual Meetings Steeped In Goal-Setting With The Assistance Of Coaching And Mentoring?

If you are not encouraged, recognized, valued, and rewarded for pursuing your personal development, how likely would you want to stay at that organization? Would you have a deep sense of loyalty? Probably not.

Coaching Across The Generations

For Gen Zers (1997-2012), most only stay at an organization for an average of two years and three months! It can feel like, at this point, we just got done with onboarding and training. The good news about this generation is that they are the most likely of all generations to stay if they are offered the chance to upskill. They are competitive and want to be challenged, grow, and learn. How are you encouraging and igniting that desire? I would recommend asking them what they are interested in learning about and what resources they would need to become your organization’s expert/authority in that field. What resources are available? Could they benefit from a book, online course, or consulting service? Ask questions for them to marinate on, such as “Who are the experts in this field, and how can you learn from them?”

As independent as Gen Zers are, let them take ownership of developing a plan that works for you both. Remember to check your stereotypes at the door when investing in their growth. By NOT investing in their development because you think they will be leaving in another year anyway, you’ll be getting exactly what you focus on … filling another abandoned position. Instead, try to focus on how much you can accomplish together and how much good they can do for the practice when THEY are at their best! Plus, they might just stay.

Next in line for years of service at your organization are Millennials (1981-1996), with an average of two years and nine months. To boost their interest and commitment, 43% of Millennials ask for changes in their job responsibilities. Are you asking them where they would like to see themselves 2-5 years from now? Maybe they don’t know what they want to strive toward or don’t even know what is possible within your organization. The first step is meeting to talk about it and then following up with coaching to aid them in planning out their path to realize their vision. Millennials tend to be collaborative by nature. Work together to nail down an outline that will continue giving them confidence and the results they are so driven to achieve.

Gen X (1965-1980) has an average employment rate of five years and two months. They tend to be self-reliant and prefer to have a goal rather than be given free rein to decide how to pursue it creatively. It can energize them to have fun, new experiences, and training. Ask them what it would look like if they were a well-rounded success and how they will know when they’ve arrived. How could they get there? During coaching sessions, deploy the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) mindset. Bonus points if you can tie it into the work-life balance they hold so dear!

Finally, the Boomers (1946-1964) have an average of eight years and three months at each place of employment under their belts. Only 1/3 of boomers are actively engaged at work. How can we reignite them? Of course, meet with them and ask! An apparent reality that’s always right with the Boomers: recognition, recognition, recognition! (Triple bonus points if you can swing this publicly!) Validate and celebrate their achievements. They’ve been at it and plugging away for some decades now, and they know a thing or two about a thing or two. Make every effort to facilitate the transfer of their years of hard-won knowledge down through the ranks. Boomers make excellent mentors! They are THE EXPERTS.

Everyone likes to feel that the higher-ups recognize their talents, capabilities, and potential. Show that you value them by investing time and effort into their growth and development.

Is Follow-Up Happening Within The First Year?

Why meet with a team member about their vision for the future and not check in with them again until the following year? Are they running into roadblocks and need troubleshooting assistance? What if a completely new problem in their performance arises? Please don’t tuck it away by making a laundry list of concerns you’re planning to ” verbally vomit” on your poor team member at their next annual meeting! Give frequent, kind, caring, and curious feedback, positive reinforcement, and redirecting (preferably several positives to one negative). It will make their annual meetings calmer, more productive, and less anxiety-provoking. Imagine how cool it would be if team members were excited to meet about possible career prospects and see how they can develop as individuals.

Remember that the untapped potential that is not realized through coaching/mentoring and goal-setting will eventually find a place where it will be acknowledged, honored, and fostered!

On a final note, the commonly used “Annual Performance Review” just sounds awful. “Annual Growth Conference” is a much sweeter-smelling rose. That’s the kind of meeting I wouldn’t mind taking part in.

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About the Author

Headshot of Melissa Smith

Melissa is an office manager at her husband’s dental office in Prairie Village, KS. She graduated from UMKC with a degree in dental hygiene. She practiced for 15 years, also serving in various roles in the Greater Kansas City Dental Hygienist’s Association, including as the organization’s president. Presently, Melissa serves as the AADOM Kansas City Chapter president.

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