Personal development is an important performance management consideration. Personal development reviews also know as a ‘PDR Review’ are key to making sure that development is happening. Don’t make these common mistakes and sabotage your team members’ progress.
Before we go into the most common errors committed during personal development reviews, it’s important to point out that personal development reviews are not the same as performance reviews. While we recommend that managers and employees hold frequent, light-touch monthly performance reviews and incorporate personal development discussions within those check-ins, some companies choose to hold separate personal development reviews. This way, exclusive time can be dedicated to assessing strengths and weaknesses while creating a clear game plan of what steps will be taken in the months to come.
However you choose to hold them, personal development reviews allow employees and managers to identify learning and development opportunities, review progress and plan for future development. What’s more, they provide a framework for managers and employees to openly discuss their role, department and career ambitions. Conversations on topics like these are critical to the morale and overall engagement levels within an organisation — in fact, they can make all the difference when it comes to retaining a top performer or having them jump ship for a competitor.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to hold personal development reviews with each of your employees and do more than simply pay them lip service. If employees sense that you aren’t truly committed to these reviews or their continued development, they will begin to see them as a box-ticking exercise and a waste of time. Done right, though, they can be a valuable performance management tool.
1. You Aren’t Enthusiastic about Personal Development Reviews
Employees pick up on the attitudes of their managers during meetings. Everyone in your workforce needs to know you are invested in them and their development.
If you are half-hearted, fidgety or constantly clock-watching during performance development reviews, your apathy will shine through. And if you don’t care about performance development reviews, what reason do your employees have to care? Eventually, the process becomes a huge waste of time and resources and you’ll be left with nothing but a disengaged, frustrated team.
If you feel unenthusiastic about personal development discussions, it might be because you are unaware of how valuable personal development objectives can be to an employee and their motivation. Take the time to adapt the process to make it more productive and efficient for you and your team. In time, you will be rewarded with determined, engaged employees who are eagerly working on improving their skills and furthering the business.
2. You Don’t Give Them the Time and Attention They Deserve
As with any performance management tool, for performance development reviews to be truly effective, you need to give them appropriate levels of time and attention. Plan your meetings in advance, choose a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted and set aside enough time to discuss employee concerns and needs. The meetings shouldn’t feel rushed; the employee needs to know that they are the focus of the one-on-one discussion.
To schedule and organise your performance development reviews, we recommend you use top performance management software, such as Clear Review, which will help you allocate time and send out alerts.
3. You Focus Too Much on the Negative
Personal development reviews are designed to highlight areas for improvement, which means that when they are handled in the wrong way, they can come across as negative. When an employee is inundated with too much negativity in the workplace, their motivation suffers, as does their creativity, enthusiasm and desire to contribute to your organisation.
Try to frame weaknesses as opportunities to improve. Discuss training methods and options, finding the one that is just right for this particular employee. In time, your employees will come to realise you are dedicated to, and invested in, their development and careers, which will create a sense of loyalty to you and the business. That being said, we’re certainly not suggesting you avoid discussing negatives altogether, which brings us to our next point…
4. You Skirt around the Negative
Too much of anything is a bad thing. If your employee hears nothing but negativity, it is likely to impact their morale and engagement. However, managers need to be able to address issues head-on, especially if these issues are impeding company performance in any way.
Don’t wrap your employees up in cotton wool. They genuinely want to hear your feedback and want your help to improve. Don’t tell your employees everything is going well and that you’re entirely satisfied with their performance if you have a genuine cause for concern. Your employees deserve and want to know if they are heading in the wrong direction.
5. You Are Unreceptive to Employee Feedback
As with your regular performance discussions, your personal development reviews should be a two-way street. As well as covering ways your employees can advance and improve, such meetings should also be an opportunity for them to give feedback on how the organisation as a whole is doing and how processes can be improved to facilitate and streamline development.
It is essential that managers are open to this feedback. If your employees feel that you don’t provide appropriate time for them to develop in particular areas, let them know that you will address this concern. If your employees feel that a particular training scheme isn’t advanced or informative enough, take steps to remedy and improve the situation. This will show your employees that they are being heard and that they are a valued member of the team who is helping to improve the company as a whole.
6. You Spring Surprises on Your Employees That Weren’t Mentioned During One on Ones
As mentioned above, we recommend regular monthly check-ins to cover SMART objectives, pressing concerns and personal, team and organisational priorities (for further information, see our blog post: 7 Items for Discussion During Performance Conversations).
If you choose to hold separate personal development reviews, there shouldn’t be any surprises for your employees. If they have been underperforming, you should have already addressed this during your regular one on ones and put a plan in place. If you hold back during your frequent check-ins and spring surprises on your employees during their personal development review, this will lead to frustration and, ultimately, distrust in you as a manager.
7. You Don’t Give Your Employees Space to Talk
Try not to dominate the meeting. This should be a time for your employees to open up and discuss development objectives and opportunities that are on their minds. If your company doesn’t hold regular performance discussions, employees might be rigid and uncommunicative at first, but in time, employees will begin to develop familiarity with their managers, as well as the confidence to speak their minds. Don’t accommodate single-word responses to questions.
Don’t cut employees off and always ask them to elaborate. This will encourage transparency and authenticity in the workplace.
You can read about some real-life examples of how not to approach a personal development review or construct personal development plans on our blog.
8. You Don’t Follow Up
If development opportunities are raised once a year and not tracked or followed up on, everyone involved will quickly become disillusioned. Once you have strengths and skills in place that need to be improved upon, be clear and concise about what will happen in the coming months. What training will you offer? What tools will you source? Write down what will happen by when and keep revisiting these plans. Importantly, you should also organise a follow-up meeting so managers, HR and employees can all keep up to date with and motivated towards continual development.
Find out how Clear Review can help improve employee performance
Clear Review is an online continuous performance management software system that improves employee performance and facilitates year-round performance and development discussions. To find out more, book a free demo of Clear Review today.