Companies usually use some type of employee performance evaluation to assess successes and gaps in performance and convey these assessments to employees. Although this might be helpful, it’s not enough. If you want your employees to be more engaged and productive, you need to understand their intrinsic motivations.
To do this, consider adding these questions to the employee performance review conversation. (Notice that we use the word “feel” a lot because it’s the employee’s emotions that should concern you.):
- How do you feel about your job?
- How do you feel about the direction of the company?
- Do you feel that you have improved your skills over the last year?
- To what extent do you feel that you have grown as a person while working for us during the past year?
- What do you feel is the most valuable thing you do at work?
- Where do feel you can add more value to the company?
- Out of curiosity, have you looked at other job opportunities or are you completely satisfied here? If not, what would it take to satisfy you?
- Do you feel you’re being paid fairly? If not, what do you feel you should get paid and what do you base that on?
- Do you feel we have exhibited a management style that’s caring and supportive? If not, how can we do a better job of this?
- Is there anything that we haven’t spoken about that feels unfair to you and might get in the way of our working relationship or your success at this company?
- Is there anything else you would like to share that we haven’t talked about?
These are brave questions to ask because most managers really don’t want to dive into the emotional landscape – which is a big mistake. As Daniel Goldman reminds us in Emotional Intelligence, it’s your E.Q., not your I.Q., that’s most important to becoming a great leader or manager.
Consider having this conversation outside of your office where it might feel safer for the employee. For example, “Now that we’ve discussed your performance I like to have a little deeper conversation about your work here and I don’t want to do it in the office. Where would you like to go talk about this? ”
You don’t have to buy this idea wholesale. Test it out. Play social scientist and begin with just one employee. Let him or her know that you’re opening up to a more meaningful conversation; and that because you’ve never tried this before it will be a learning experience for both of you!