1. Examine your current performance review practices
Your current performance reviews process is the ideal place to start. One of the most effective ways to examine your current performance review process is to host an anonymous survey to know what your staff are thinking. You can use Leapsome’s survey comments feature to have further conversations with staff members if you need more context.
Here are some questions you can ask during this survey:
- If you could describe the performance review process at [company] in one word, what would it be?
- I felt like my performance review at [company] highlighted an adequate reflection of my work.
- I wish that my manager discussed ____ during my company performance review.
- I feel like the company judged my performance based on the merits of my work.
- If you managed performance reviews at [company], what would you change?
2. Educate company leaders about unconscious bias and how it impacts performance reviews
As a People Ops leader, you have a fantastic opportunity to educate other professionals about the role unconscious bias can play at work.
We highly suggest finding an experienced DEI educator to cover this topic. They can talk with your staff, answer questions, and work with you to help your organization understand the purpose of removing unconscious bias. It’s important to go beyond just sharing an article with your people and work with someone who can speak to your exact needs and challenges.
While working with your team, it’s important to highlight how vital performance reviews are to your organization. Although not every company ties compensations to performance reviews, many organizations promote, give raises, or let go of employees based on them. Therefore, performance appraisals must be as fact-oriented as possible so that everyone gets a fair shake.
3. Set up expectations and goals around reducing unconscious bias
After you’ve gone over the results of your surveys and your colleagues are educated about unconscious bias, it’s time to set new goals and expectations around performance reviews.
Start by sharing how employees felt during the process. If you can, send out results by department to the respective leaders of those departments. You should also send the total results — especially if your company values transparency.
You’ll want to work with company leaders to solve any pressing or glaring issues first. After that, you can move on to set tangible goals, expectations, and actions around how to reduce bias during performance reviews.
For example, you might suggest the following actions:
- Holding a yearly company-wide performance review training that educates employees on performance reviews, bias in those reviews, and how to give a proper review.
- Having more than one manager sit in on formal annual reviews to share a different perspective.
- Creating a more standardized performance review rubric so that employees are getting judged by similar criteria.
- Building a performance review committee that meets to address any concerns employees get once they get their reviews back.
Make sure that you discuss who will own any goals or action items you suggest during this process.
4. Create a tangible reference document that company leaders can use
Once you understand the goals, actions, and commitments you want to make to employees, write it all down in a first draft of the document. Open that document up to comments and thoughts from other company leaders. After some debate and conversation, you can create the final document for your employees.
5. Involve your employees
After you’ve settled on your documented procedures, you need to let employees know so they can hold you accountable. You can include this document as a part of your employee handbook or company’s internal wiki.
During your company’s all-hands meeting, take some time to go over these changes and how they will impact employees. If you had any relevant discussions during the surveying phase, now is a great time to close the loop and make sure those team members know what you’re doing going forward.
Follow-up best practices for reducing unconscious bias in performance reviews
Send out an additional performance review survey to staff members
After a few months of running your current performance review processes, you can start sending out follow-up surveys to team members. You can easily do this with a tool like Leapsome. Ask them how they liked the changes made to the process, if the result of their review was more accurate, and if these changes helped with the mission of reducing unconscious bias.
After several employees have taken the follow-up survey, it’s time to examine the results and see if there are any glaring changes or red flags with your current process. Gathering feedback from employees is crucial right now. It’s also a good idea to use a tool with advanced analytics capabilities (like sentiment analysis and post-survey action recommendations) to help you make the most of quantitative and qualitative data.
Recalculate until your performance reviews are appropriately remedied
Sometimes you have to take a few stabs at a process update to get it right. If you don’t see any significant improvement in performance reviews, it’s okay to revisit your original fix to try and get to the root of the issue.
If you’re having trouble understanding the issue, go back to the initial survey you conducted. Are you addressing those concerns? Maybe your company’s growth has sped up dramatically since then, so the information is out of date. There’s usually an answer if you dig deep enough.
If needed, restructure how performance reviews work
If your recalibration just isn’t working, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. You could restructure how your performance reviews work or the weight you give them.
For example, you might decide to:
- Increase the number of performance reviews per year; and
- Take some of the weight off performance reviews at your organization and decouple it from compensation, promoting a more learning-focused approach.
A massive performance review restructuring takes time and planning. Again, this should never be your first idea if performance reviews just need a minor tweak.
— Would you like to learn more about how to implement performance reviews or improve the review process in your company? We’ve got you covered!
Access our step-by-step guides on running a 360° performance review, conducting a leadership performance appraisal, and writing an employee review (as a respondent). And make sure to download our free pack with best-practice questions for performance reviews, including specific questions to ask leaders at your company. 😉