It’s performance review season. If you are a manager, invest genuine time in preparing a review, having a discussion. If you are an employee who doesn’t have the best manager who is inconsistent connecting with you or having reviews, proactively complete a self-assessment and initiate the meeting.

Managers who show proactive interest and care in their direct reports are on their way to becoming good leaders, if not servant leaders.

If you are an employee who currently doesn’t have the best manager, you will learn from the experience, plus you can start developing the inner capability to drive your career, plan for a move if that makes sense.

For more tips for year-end review season, revisit one of my earlier articles: Year-End Performance Reviews — What Signals Are You Sending To Employees about Their Value? and You Can’t Manufacture Presence in Performance Management.

Last, performance review season and the allocation of rewards is a trigger for the good and bad habits of who we see and don’t see in the workplace, which can be anchored in overt or deep unconscious biases. To be cognizant of these and reflect more about the subtleties of behavior and performance in the workplace, I advise others to follow Adam Grant for a weekly dose or two of workplace insights on Instagram.

I have created a listicle of some of my favorite Adam Grant Instagram insights for year-end review season (and for that matter all year-end round) for employees and managers alike.

  1. “Men get specific feedback on how to achieve their goals. Women get vague comments on how they are perceived. The evidence is clear on the problem and the solution. Valid feedback focuses on performance, not personality.”
  2. “When you receive feedback that isn’t useful, try asking for advice instead. Feedback is often a vague reaction to something you did in the past. Seeking advice shifts something you can do differently in the future.”
  3. “Don’t take feedback as a judgment of you. Think of it as a judgement of a performance you gave. No athlete or musician gives a flawless performance, and neither will you. Gauge the progress you make by one performance to the next.”
  4. “It doesn’t matter how much empathy you have for your group, if you devalue other groups. We need more rational compassion, reflective concern for people different from us. You don’t have to share their feelings, to care for their feelings.”
  5. “If you only promote people who agree with you, you end up building an organization of followers, not leaders. Your future leaders aren’t the ones who conform to the norm. They’re the ones with a healthy respect for the status quo.”
  6. “Emotions aren’t noise or a nuisance. They are data. The emotions people feel are window into if the culture is healthy or toxic. The emotions people accept, and reject are window into what the culture values.”
  7. “The most dangerous person’s voice is the HIPPO: the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. Status disparities can fuel conformity and group think, when you need diversity of thought, ask everyone else their thoughts before turning to the HIPPO.”
  8. “Dear managers: pay isn’t a carrot you dangle to motive them. It’s a symbol of how much you value them. Motivate by designing meaningful jobs where people have freedom, connection and impact. Appreciate by paying them well.”
  9. “When you find yourself inferring intentions from actions, stop. You can describe behaviors and their consequences, but unless you are telepathic, you can’t know why they happened. Avoid assumptions about motives. Asking what they were trying to accomplish.”
  10. “New study: the better black leaders perform, they more bias they face. Professional leaders struggled to differentiate between successful and unsuccessful teams when leaders were black—but had little trouble when leaders were white.”
  11. “Listen to the advice you give others. It’s usually the advice you need to give yourself.”
  12. “Character is what you do when the leader isn’t watching. Culture is what your group does when the leader isn’t watching. Culture often reflects a leader’s character, but it can also be a substitute for a leader’s lack of character.”
  13. “Being a good manager isn’t rocket science: hold frequent one-on-ones with direct reports; make connections across departments, don’t expect people to work nights and weekends, don’t make people spend 27 hours a week in bloated meetings.”
  14. “The point of leadership isn’t to accumulate followers. It’s to make a group more than a sum of its parts. Selfish leaders divide each other for personal gain. Servants leaders unite people for collective purpose.”

Performance reviews will be less of a painful event, if we purposefully reflect and act on how we see (and don’t see) and recognize others; how we proactively engage in feedback and dialogue throughout the year, and fundamentally how we lead and work to be in relationship with others who are not exactly like us.

PS. If you got to the end of this article and you are looking to blow up your performance management, check out my colleague and friend Prue Armstrong who co-founded Yoomiapp. Yoomiapp moves beyond a clunky performance form to an innovative way for managers and employees to engage in a dynamic conversations about the WHOLE person including PERFORMANCE, WELL BEING and ENGAGEMENT) using the nudge of a simple app.