It’s a brand review, not a performance review

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Performance review season is around the corner.

Yes, I’m talking about the ‘annual’ discussion meant to offer you and your manager a designated time to talk about your contributions and impact over the prior 12 months.

Many companies have shifted to a more frequent cadence of feedback exchanges meant to decrease formality and pressure, ultimately alleviating the fear about these conversations. But the truth is…feedback is feedback and it comes with baggage attached. The annual review is rooted in teacher conferences, final exams and report cards, which have conditioned our psyche to some sort of ‘grade giving’.

The best annual review questions I’ve been asked…ever… are documented in an article I wrote in 2016. All credit for this format is given to Mark Goodman, to whom I reported for over seven years.

This year, my insight about performance reviews is that, despite an updated cadence and attempt to make them less report card-ish…our minds have not made the shift.

But, I think there’s an answer.

What if…

The performance review is our annual personal brand review?

After all..that’s what is actually happening: We’re examining the degree to which we kept our brand promise.

Hinge Marketing says this about a brand promise:

  • “…the brand promise is a brand’s fruit—it’s the tangible benefit that makes a product or service desirable.”
  • “A promise, of course, is good only if it’s kept. If a company doesn’t deliver on its promise the vast majority of the time, its reputation—and sales—will likely decline.” 
  • “It allows a business to set up client expectations and generate excitement.”
  • “It must convey a compelling benefit”
  • “It must be authentic & credible
  • “It must be kept, every time

Sounds like the ‘new performance review’ to me!

  • Did we convey benefit and were those benefits delivered?
  • Did we build credibility by keeping our promise?
  • Did we differentiate ourselves through the experience we created for our ‘customers’ and colleagues?

With so much emphasis on building a personal brand and so much similarity between personal brand and performing our jobs…it’s time organizations re-look at how to make the performance review relevant to what their employees care about.

And, from what I can tell, employees care a lot more about “how well I delivered on my personal brand” than they care about “what my manager thinks of my contributions”.

Our archaic language and thinking needs to catch up to today’s motivations.


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