Contribution Reviews Create Values Alignment with Actionable Feedback

While it doesn’t really matter whether you call them – “performance reviews” or “contribution reviews,” or something else – what does matter is that people get regular feedback. They receive performance appraisals and assessment of values contributions. That is why we encourage our culture change clients to call these discussions “contribution reviews” and include feedback to team leaders and members about the extent to which they are seen to demonstrate desired valued behaviors, as well as about their performance for the time period in question.


Many organizations manage performance on a calendar year plan, so the end of the year is when performance reviews occur. Your leaders, managers, and employees need regular performance feedback! Feedback lets staff know where they stand on goal accomplishment, contribution, and teamwork.


Too often, reviews aren’t done well — or even done at all. At a recent keynote event, I asked how many attendees have a review by their boss each year; more than half said they did NOT. Without regular feedback and insights on how they are perceived by their boss, peers, and customers, employees are left to wonder “who cares about what I do around here?”


Do your employees a favor: provide them with honest feedback, at least once per year, on their accomplishments, missed commitments, opportunities for development . . . AND on their demonstration of the organization’s desired valued behaviors.


From Performance Reviews to Contribution Reviews

In order for contribution reviews to be effective conversations, expectations must be clear for performance and for values, in advance. Most of our clients clarify performance expectations well in the planning process. Some clients use SMART goals, which ensure performance expectations meet the SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, trackable and time-bound).

Translating desired valued behaviors into effective measures as part of evaluating contribution takes a bit of effort, yet it will help clarify the kind of corporate citizenship you want every organization member to demonstrate, day in and day out.


Creating Values Standards with Actionable Feedback

In order to be actionable by the receiver, values feedback must be provided in the form of standards: exceeds the standard, meets the standard, and needs improvement.

Let’s take an example. One client defined the desired value, alacrity, as “our enthusiastic eagerness to get the right things done quickly. We honor the pace of business today and get things done promptly and efficiently. As active risk takers, we choose action over inaction. We cooperate to create open systems and communications. We learn and adapt on a daily basis, striving for excellence, without letting the pursuit of perfection slow us down.” Behaviors for this value were refined to fit the standards rating for annual reviews in this way:


Exceeds Standard

1) Holds self and others accountable to high standards.

2) Often exceeds and consistently meets deadlines committed to.

3) Assists team members with their projects regularly.


Meets Standard

1) Meets minimum standards for work performance.

2) Consistently meets deadlines committed to.

3) Assists team members with their projects when able.


Needs Improvement

1) Rarely exceeds the standard for work performance.

2) Misses deadlines on a regular basis.

3) Rarely seen assisting team members with their projects.


All valued behaviors are ranked either “exceeds, meets, or needs improvement.” A player might deserve an “exceeds” ranking on item one but a “meets” ranking on items two & three. To ensure an accurate assessment of valued behaviors, clients gather perceptions from bosses, peers, and even customers in a custom values survey, typically administered twice each year. Data from respondents is utilized to gauge values demonstration in their contribution reviews.


If your organization does annual reviews for every staff member, that’s good. If annual reviews just focus on performance, you’re missing out on a key differentiator in today’s business environment: values alignment.


Contributed by S. Chris Edmonds, Founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. 


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