The employee review is one of your most powerful internal communication vehicles, linked to both employee satisfaction and retention.
Managing people is a sacred act, and even one employee creates a “workplace.” Whether your office is in a tall building or a small chapel, each employee deserves regular, open feedback about that person’s work and how your workplace has been experienced. What’s it like, working with you?
When you invite team members to consider some big questions, take your own personal inventory. Is that work and workplace good, neutral or constricting for their souls or yours?
The right review can shift us into changing how we work, where we work or even how we live.
The best review templates add value to traditional goal-setting, and a favorite example comes from North Point Ministries and Buckhead Church here in Atlanta. NPM posts its review questions online, and several questions from the 1-year employee evaluation such as “Do you have a best friend at work?” are based on employee satisfaction research.
A few other questions from the NPM 1-year employee evaluation:
- What recognition or praise have you received in the last seven days about the work you are doing?
When I talk about retention and internal communication, “praise” can be a complicated topic. That’s because the praise we give tends to come in the form and frequency we enjoy instead of the type the recipient prefers.
How does the employee LIKE to be praised? Find out if the employee prefers to work quietly in the background.
Is your praise general (“good job”) or specific (“Beautiful design, and the way you guided the team to resolve conflicting opinions about the earlier draft was amazing!”)?
Praise attached to additional requests can neutralize the sincerity of the thanks you give, as if praise is just a warm-up to more work.
- How is what you are actually doing different than what you were hired to do?
- At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
Your strongest employees are usually the people best equipped to leave your organization. That’s called “talent flight,” and questions like the ones above can help you avoid it.
Some employees, particularly “creatives,” want more from a job than the paycheck. The high-priced race horse you hired will not be happy just plowing your field without an opportunity to run.
What is suitable for one personality might make someone else miserable, and finding the right work may not be about saving the world or some other “noble” pursuit. I love an example author Thomas Moore gives of finding the right work in his book, Care of the Soul. The man in Moore’s anecdote simply moved from troubleshooting spraying operations at a factory to a sales position, where he found himself happy to go to work each day. That story is in the chapter, Economics of Soul, along with several soulful questions to ask yourself about your potential employer after a job interview.
Ready to go deeper?
Let me suggest two more prompts inspired by Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak, with an additional suggestion to read both his book and Moore’s.
- Think about a project, assignment, presentation, etc., that “lit you up,” that made you feel energized and alive doing the work.
- Think about a project, assignment, presentation, etc., that drained you.
The answers to these questions will unfold over time, and, if given patient attention, those answers will offer clues about your essential nature. The shadows packaged with the gifts inside our souls are not problems to be solved or behaviors to correct; they are clues to the work we were each created to do.
Every job has its difficult moments, but any ongoing, internal struggle is a messenger whispering only to you. Only you can determine if you’re being called into authentic growth or called to leave. If a shoe is too small, you can blame your feet, buy some bandages and “make it work” in a peculiar act of self-violence, or you can find a better fit.
Can you handle it? Probably.
But the measure of a full life is not how much we can endure, but how we apply energy to our values, including self-value.
Working against your nature will deplete you no matter how good or beneficial your work product, industry or organization might be.
When you do the things that light you up, your light is contagious, and the subtitle of Parker’s book is “Listening for the Voice of Vocation.” May we all make time to listen at work and at home, to each other and to our own souls.