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Personal development is an important performance management consideration. Don’t make these errors and sabotage progress.

The first thing to note is that personal development reviews are not the same as performance management reviews. While we recommend that managers and employees hold frequent, light-touch monthly performance reviews and incorporate a personal development discussion within those check-ins, some companies choose to hold a separate personal development review.

However you choose to hold them, personal development reviews provide an opportunity to identify learning and development opportunities. They also provide an opportunity to 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, which can make the difference between retaining a top performer or having them jump ship for a competitor.

As a manager, you need to dedicate time to personal development reviews and do more than simply pay them lip service. If employees sense that you aren’t truly committed to these reviews, they will see them as a box-ticking exercise and a general waste of time. Done right, though, and they can be a valuable performance management tool.

You will end up sabotaging your personal development reviews with your employees if: 

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 that you are invested in them and their development. If you are half-hearted, keep looking at your watch during the performance development reviews, or if you aren’t showing any enthusiasm, your apathy will shine through. Ultimately, your employees won’t care about these meetings either and the whole process will result in wasted time and a 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 all the more productive and efficient for you and your employees. In time, you will be rewarded with engaged, determined 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 our own Clear Review software, which will help you allocate time and send out alerts.

3. 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 in which your employee can advance and improve, such meetings should also be an opportunity for employees 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 you, as a manager, 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 they are a valued member of the team who is helping to improve the company as a whole. 

4. You spring surprises on your employees that weren’t mentioned during one-on-ones


As mentioned above, we at Clear Review 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 in these meetings. If they have been under-performing, this should have been addressed during your regular one-on-ones and steps should have already been put in place to remedy this situation. 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.

5. 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 utilise 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 on their responses. In time, this will encourage transparency and authenticity in the workplace.

Clear Review is an online continuous performance management software system that improves employee performance and facilitates year-round performance and development discussions. Our software helps companies like HarperCollins, Perkbox and Aston Villa Football Club improve productivity and streamline communication. To find out what we can do for your business, get in touch with Clear Review today.