Performance Reviews: Judgement Day

Stressed employee - performance reviews

angry reviewIt’s that time of the year! December means performance reviews which typically brings anxiety along with it.

It’s a time when, regardless of performance, people feel afraid of how they might be blindsided by their boss or manager.

If your supervisor (or you as a supervisor or manager) only holds performance conversations with staff one or two times a year, they’re doing everyone a disservice.

Stars - ratingI’ve worked with several organizations where we had performance reviews once a year. The scale for each review was from 1-5 (1 was low, 5 was high), and regardless of performance, everyone scored a 4 or a 5. Those who performed poorly had no clue, and those who exceeded expectations had no incentive to perform at or above the same level.

Staff in the organizations rarely (if ever) had conversations with their supervisors/managers about their career and job-related goals. Now, I’m not suggesting it is only the supervisor’s responsibility to ask these questions. Employees certainly share responsibility for not telling their supervisors what they want or need. However, supervisors should set the precedent.

When you don’t have a regularly scheduled one-on-one with your supervisor, it’s hard to believe they actually care about what you want long-term. It’s hard to believe they see you as more than a cog in their big machine of results and deliverables.

So, how do we change the culture of performance reviews?

Teamwork - collaboration - employee engagement
Suggestions for supervisors

Conduct a stay interview with all of your staff. This includes asking the following questions:

  1. What goals were you hoping to achieve when you took this job?
  2. Are you achieving these goals?
  3. If not, what can we do better to ensure you do?

good meetingYou may also consider asking “your staff about their favorite projects they’ve worked on, the moments when they’ve felt most energized at work, the times when they’ve found themselves totally immersed in a state of flow, and the passions they have outside their jobs.” (Harvard Business Review) With this information, managers and supervisors can help their employees not only construct roles that are a good fit for the employee and produce results for the organization, but also make the employee feel engaged and valued.

This type of conversation also allows managers to co-construct goals and objectives that allow them to check-in with their staff periodically for progress updates. Suddenly, “performance reviews” get a lot easier because you have goals and objectives built around the employee rather than the position (which is typically vague and not helpful).

Regularly meet with your staff.

How often do you meet with all of your staff? Do you have regularly scheduled meetings? Or, do your meetings consist of more random check-ins, only when problems arise? How often are these meetings? Are these your meetings or theirs?

It may not be feasible for you or your staff to have a regularly scheduled weekly meeting. However, if you don’t meet with each of your direct reports at least once a month, something is wrong. Your direct reports need face time with you, and these need to be their meetings. Let them set the agenda, and give them time to talk to you about whatever may be on their mind. They become accountable and responsible for the content of the meeting. If your staff hasn’t engaged in this type of meeting with you before, give them a general outline or suggested meeting topics (job related accomplishments, obstacles, discussion, etc.) so they don’t feel like they have to come up with something completely on their own. Give them the option to use or not use your suggestions.

Ask for the last 5-15 minutes of the meeting for time that you can use to ask questions or bring up any items that you would like to discuss. Ask them about their goals, what they’ve done since their last meeting with you to move toward those goals, and if anything has changed.

Asking questions about their goals and their progress in their position shows that you care about each employee’s professional and personal development and success.

on phone and techRemember:
Put your phone away. Get off your computer. Give them your undivided attention. Giving your full attention shows that you value them, what they have to say, and what they do for you.

Suggestions for employees

Ask your supervisor if you can schedule a regular meeting.

If you want to have a better relationship with your supervisor and/or you want them to know your professional (and maybe personal) goals and objectives, you have to tell them. Don’t expect your supervisor to read your mind and schedule a meeting with you. If you want your supervisor to know you want additional responsibility, to move into a leadership position, or attend a certain conference, etc., TELL THEM.

meetingThese meetings don’t have to be weekly, or even bi-weekly. See if you can start small, maybe once a month, or even once a quarter. Write down your goals and bring them to your meeting. Think about how those goals intertwine with the organizations goals. Show your list to and discuss it with your supervisor.  You may be surprised with the feedback or suggestions they have for you, and they may even provide you with information you have not yet considered.

Ask your supervisor questions.

Can you read your supervisor’s mind? No. Neither can I.

The Muse has an article about the 8 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Boss. My favorite of these questions include:

  • “What can I do to make you more successful today (or this week, month, quarter, or year)?”
  • “What’s one thing I could do differently?”
  • “How would you like to receive feedback from me?”

When you know what your supervisor wants expects from you, and you confirm this on a regular basis, you can set yourself (and your supervisor) up for success.

connecting dots

Connecting the dots

Performance reviews don’t have to invoke anxiety, fear, and stress. They can be designed to act as check-in tools to see where an employee falls when it comes to accomplishing their own goals as well as the goals of the organization. They aren’t a time to blindside someone, and they shouldn’t be avoided. When a manager regularly checks-in with his or her staff, and everyone is on the same page when it comes to current performance and expectations, everybody wins.

Thank you for reading! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement and revamp the way your organization or team conducts performance reviews, please review my services here and contact me here.


For Organizations: Employee Development Coaching/Consultation

professional development navigation

Why should you or your organization invest in employee development coaching or consultation from Life Work Balance LLC?

professional development coachingAsk yourself these questions:
✅ Do you want to attract top talent?
✅ Do you want to retain your top talent?
✅ Do you want your employees to feel like you care for and value them?
✅ Do you want your employees to feel engaged at work?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should invest in coaching as a way to provide growth and development opportunities for your employees.

Effective development and coaching facilitates the professional growth of your employees by:
✅ helping them recognize their natural talents
✅ develop those natural talents into strengths
✅ and acknowledge and improve on their weaknesses

Employee development is a huge missed opportunity for organizations.

dead end - missed opportunityOpportunities to learn and grow is considered one of the top 3 factors in retaining young workers, and is important to all generations in the workplace (see this article by Gallup).

According to Gallup, “87% of millennials rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important to them in a job…[and] 69% of non-millennials say the same.”

When organizations lack professional-development opportunities for their employees, many high-potential/high-performing employees will move on to organizations that do foster their growth. This costs organizations money, time, and resources.

The effort it takes to recruit, orient, and train new employees are often better spent developing and encouraging current employees, especially when they are otherwise happy in their work.

MIT says coaching:

creates a genuinely motivating climate for performance, improves the match between an employee’s actual and expected performance, and increases the probability of an employee’s success by providing timely feedback, recognition, clarity and support.

How does Life Work Balance’s employee development coaching work?

exploreCoaching is a unique one-on-one relationship designed to help members of your organization:
✅ overcome challenges
✅ realize their potential
✅ and maximize their success.

Coaching is appropriate for all members of your organization. This includes high-performing employees who are looking for additional professional development opportunities; promising or established employees who have lost motivation; employees who need help improving their time management or communication skills; and employees who are struggling with interpersonal relationships at work.

When your employees work with our coaches, they receive individual, confidential guidance. Our coaches act as a resource and sounding board for employees while also providing unbiased, honest feedback, and ask questions that spark, inspire, and provoke discussions, thought, and self-reflection.

Organizations paying for coaching for an employee may work with a consultant to set the initial coaching objectives or delineate the challenges as they see them, but they will only receive limited information about the coaching engagement. Further information will be shared by the employee at their discretion.

If you feel your organization is ready to invest in employee development coaching, contact us here.

Life Work Balance Logo 2

How to Attract and Retain Millennial and Gen Z Employees


The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey provided several insights and opportunities for business to both attract and retain employees who fall into the Millennial and Gen Z  generations. If you don’t have time to read the 32 page report (PDF), we’ve got you covered!

GraduationHow does Deloitte define Millennial and Generation Z?

A Millennial is someone who was born between January 1983 and December 1994. Gen Zs were born between January 1995 and December 1999.

All of the Millennials who participated Deloitte’s survey had a first degree or higher-level qualification and were employed full-time. All of the Gen Z respondents were either studying for or had obtained a first/higher degree.

What is are the primary takeaways from Deloitte’s survey?

envrionmentMillennial and Gen Z workers want businesses to:

  1.  Generate jobs and provide employment
  2.  Act ethically and work toward improving society and the environment
  3.  Promote innovation by developing new products and services, and generating new ideas
  4.  Focus on inclusion and diversity


moneyWhere do Millennial and Gen Z workers think business priorities fall instead?

  1.  Generating profit
  2.  Driving efficiencies
  3.  Producing/selling goods and services


Most respondents described how they don’t believe businesses and organizations behave ethically.

They believe companies only want to make money and selfishly want to focus on themselves rather than consider society as a whole.

social justice Young workers are realistic and understand profits are needed for a successful business. However, they believe it is possible for organizations to prioritize profits while also prioritizing job generation, innovation, improving society, and promoting inclusion and diversity.

Young workers want business leaders to be proactive about making a positive contribution society and they want businesses to benefit all of their stakeholders. Stakeholders are not limited to board members or shareholders; they also  include the employees, customers, and the communities in which the businesses operate.

Unfortunately, young workers’ experience is of employers and businesses prioritizing the bottom line ($$$) above workers, society, and the environment.

This leaves young workers with little sense of loyalty.

Among Millennials, almost half plan on leaving their job within two years. Only about a quarter plan on staying beyond five years.


Gen Z respondents expressed even less loyalty, with more than 60% saying they would leave within two years if given the choice.

trust and loyaltyGood pay and positive culture will likely attract both Millennials and Gen Z, but
diversity/inclusion and flexibility are important keys to keeping them happy and with your organization.

Loyalty isn’t a given, it must be earned.

Loyalty is more than just a paycheck. Providing young workers with a sense of purpose, exceptional workplace culture, and professional development opportunities are likely to attract and retain the best talent. One of the benefits of attracting and retaining top talent? Organizations have an opportunity to perform better financially.

How can an organization work to improve loyalty among it’s young workers?

  1. Align prioritiesIncrease pay:
    Although this might seem counter intuitive, it actually is consistent with the ideas that employers should “share the wealth” by enhancing workers’ lives and providing good employment. It also is consistent with workers trying to pay off school debts, afford housing, and save for their future.
  2. Make work more than just a pay check:
    Millennial and Generation Z workers need positive reasons to stay with their employers; more than just a pay check. Not only does a company need to show that by staying loyal to the company the employee will be better off financially, the organization also needs to show that the employee will be more developed as an individual professional compared to if they quit.
  3. Align priorities:
    Companies need to ensure their motivations and priorities are aligned with those of the younger workforce. A focus on profits does not promote loyalty. As described above, Millennial and Gen Z workers want organizations to generate jobs and provide employment, act ethically and work toward improving society and the environment, promote innovation by developing new products and services, and generating new ideas, and focus on inclusion and flexible
  4. Be flexible:
    When an organization offers flexibility for workers, not tying them to strict hours or locations, loyalty can be improved. Young workers appreciate the flexibility and value the trust of their employer.
  5. Provide professional development opportunities:
    The 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) is upon us. Many young workers feel unprepared. Organizations that help their employees adapt and develop to the changing world keep their key players around longer because they show they are invested in their employees. The Deloitte survey authors say, “about 8 in 10 Millennials say that on-the-job training, continuous professional development and formal training led by employers will be important to help them perform their best.”

Connecting the dots photoConnecting the Dots

Young workers in the Millennial generation and Generation Z want business leaders to take a step away from focusing on profits and toward focusing on social concerns that can help solve the world’s problems. Organizations need to be more diverse and inclusive, offer additional flexibility in schedules and work locations, and be nurturing and generous with it’s employees.

Organizations that can achieve the above are more likely to attract and retain the top Millennial and Gen Z talent, which will help set the organization and it’s employees up for long-term success.

Thank you for reading! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, especially among your younger workers, please review my services here and contact me here.

Resume Tips! #ResumeTipTuesday


Every Tuesday we post resume tips on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn using the hashtags #ResumeTipTuesday and #TuesdayResumeTip . Below is the complete list!

  1. Use exact keywords from the job description in your resume. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) scan for keywords before recruiters see your application.
  2. Title your work experience section “Relevant Professional Experience” so you don’t feel pressured to include all work experience . This also allows you to include non-paid professional experience.
  3. Don’t be like this guy and include non-professional experience on your resume…
    resume tips: only include professional experience
  4. Things to include on your resume header: name, email, phone number, and LinkedIn URL. Only include your address if the job requires residency (such as state or government jobs).
  6. Do not use personal pronouns (I, me, we, etc.) on your resume.
  7. Unless you are an actor, model, or realtor, don’t include pictures on your resume.
  8. Don’t use any colored font, including URLs/hyperlinks. Change these back to black font instead of blue hyperlinks.
  9. Make sure your resume has margins. Narrow margins are good as they give you a little extra space on the page.
  10. Use quantitative measures and metrics whenever possible. Potential employers are interested in results!
  11. Do not include personal information (SSN, # of kids, marital status, etc) on your resume.
  12. Don’t include skills or experience that aren’t going to demonstrate transferable skills to the new environment .
  13. Are you applying for a Federal Job? Upload 2 resumes with your application: 1 very detailed doc for the HR folks & 1 pretty/specialized doc for the selecting officials.
  14. Save your resume with a professional title to your computer. “Jane Doe CV” instead of ”freaking awesome resume.”
  15. Do not have paragraphs of information on your resume. A recruiter will rarely read chunks of text. Use bullet points instead to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to see how qualified you are.
  16. Don’t list hobbies or interests on your resume. Your resume should be strictly professional.
  17. Similar to our second tip: Title your work section on your resume “Relevant Professional Experience.” This gives you the flexibility to only list your relevant experience so you can keep your resume to 1 page and not overwhelm the recruiter/hiring manager.
  18. Resume font size minimum is 10 point, but try to stick to 11-12 point.
  19. Use your job description to create your experience on your resume. Don’t just list daily tasks and include items like important accomplishments, successes, and goals.
  20. Make sure the content on your resume is well spaced and not squished together.
  21. Keep it brief. Resume is French for “summary.”
  22. Remember to include any certifications or training that may be relevant to the position you are applying for.
  23. Order your work experience chronologically, with most recent/current at the top and the oldest at the bottom.
  24. Email is one of the primary (and preferred) methods of contact for both recruiters and applicants. Make sure your email address is listed on your resume and is professional! “YourName@” is a good place to start.
  25. Including an executive or professional summary (in the past this may have been called an “Objective Statement” – that’s outdated now and should only be used for entry level positions) is optional.
  26. If you are going to include an executive or professional summary: don’t use pronouns (“I” or “me”), tailor it to the position, include a summary of your experience, and include your greatest accomplishments.
  27. Don’t include your GPA on your resume unless the position you are applying to specifically requires it.
  28. Don’t include the statement, “References available upon request.”
  29. If you have acronyms on your resume, try to spell them out before using them so the recruiter does not become confused.
  30.  Do. Not. Lie. On. Your. Resume. Not only can this lead to termination from a job you just got, but it can degrade your personal brand and lead to long-term unemployment.
  31. Proofread and spell check your resume! Make sure there are no typos, misspelled words (manager/manger, associate/ass., principal/principle, etc.), or grammar issues. Consider giving your resume to 2 people who know you well and ask them to point out things you didn’t catch.
  32. Make sure your punctuation is consistent throughout your resume. For example if you end every sentence with a period, don’t leave one sentence without one.
  33. Do not include salary expectations or salary history on your resume. The only exception for this might be federal resumes (federal HR departments may prefer this information is included).
  34. Do not use a template! Make sure your resume is formatted as little as possible so ATS can read it.
  35. Do not feel obligated to explain gaps in your employment on your resume.
  36. Do not say anything negative about previous employers on your resume.
  37. The ideal bullet point length is 1 line.
  38. Create a customized LinkedIn URL so you can include it on your resume!
  39. When quantifying your experience or achievements, use digits instead of spelling the number out.
  40. It’s okay to include relevant volunteer experience on your resume.
  41. Remember to check the tenses of your resume. All previous jobs should be past tense and your current job(s) should be present tense.
  42. Be sure to emphasize your results and achievements! These are what recruiters and hiring managers care about most!
  43. Ensure your formatting is consistent throughout your document. For example: keep all headings centered and then all experience/ other content aligned on the left side of the page.
  44. Only list valid/current certifications, licenses, memberships, etc.
  45. When you upload your resume to an application, stick to a Word document or PDF.
  46. Stay away from stylistic fonts. Times New Roman, Calibri, and Cambria fonts work best with ATS.
  47. Unless you’re sure a computer won’t screen your resume first, don’t use tables or graphics. ATS cannot read these!
  48. Try to keep your underlining to a minimum. If you underline text, ATS may mix up your letters. For example: an underlined q, p, g, or y, could all be confused for other letters like o or v, because ATS may remove the “tails” of the letters when they cross over the underline.
  49. Be sure to choose your words carefully and be cautious of words that can easily be misspelled like: affect (to bring about change), effect (result), personal (private), personnel (staff members), accept (to receive), and except (to exclude).
  50. Update your resume regularly, even if you are happy in your current position! This helps you remember your accomplishments and duties, which will be important for your future applications.

Thank you for taking the time to read these resume tips! If you’re looking for ways to improve your own resume, please review my services here and contact me here.