Congratulations! In your role as a manager (or as an HR pro helping new managers), you’ve successfully recruited and onboarded a high-potential multicultural employee. And at year-end review time, you’ve carefully aligned the employee’s development needs with job competencies and future career objectives…but is that annual process enough to help them succeed? Not according to experts Beverly Kaye and Julie Guilioni, who advocate in Help Them Grow or Watch them Go that employee development works best when it’s top of mind all year round. And while this observation holds true for all employees, it is especially critical when it comes to employees whose cultural norms and communications skills present challenges that the once-a-year performance review conversation may not adequately address (see my post “Performance Evaluations of Multicultural Employees: Three Things to Keep in Mind”).
Transitioning from an annual to an ongoing review process can sound onerous and time-consuming to busy managers juggling multiple responsibilities and deadlines. But time commitments are not the only concern. In relegating development plans to the annual review slot, managers are too often left taking a rear-view mirror approach. This tends to highlight past performance shortcomings, rather than presenting a forward-looking, motivational view that highlights opportunities ahead. As pointed out in “Performance Management’s Digital Shift” in Sloan Review, “Perennial complaints … and an inherent backward-looking bias persist… Instead of annual, quarterly, or impromptu reviews, talent- and accountability-oriented enterprises will encourage and enable near-constant feedback.”
Again, with the multicultural employee in mind, we’ve seen the impact of these developmental feedback issues magnified. Specifically, when forced to play catch up after the annual review, these employees can lose confidence, become demotivated, and, potentially, decide to depart.
But if managers spent more effort on regular check-ins during the year in which to work with their employees on development goals, they could avoid the rear-view dynamic and provide a sustainable roadmap for the employee to track against, gaining constructive insights, corrective input, and encouragement along the way. This ongoing “take the pulse” approach to effective employee feedback can actually make the annual planning discussion more focused and efficient—and by addressing issues as they occur, can help their organization save on costly remedial efforts down the road.
Sounds goods, right? But how do managers get started? What’s the best way to craft a development plan that’s easier to execute and allows for concrete periodic steps and more frequent check-ins? In an upcoming post I share a flexible quarterly blueprint for doing just that, tailored to the needs of the multicultural employee.