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Recently listened to the "Delivering Annual Review" cast in preparation for delivering quarterly reviews (standard in our group).  One comment stuck out. The suggestion was to sit on the same side of the table as your direct "if you are brave enough".

I did it for the quarterlies I just delievered.  I figured that Mark & Mike don't give superfluous suggestions so, why not?  But I didn't understand why.  What's the benefit of sitting on the same side of the table?  

I didn't notice an appreciable difference. Of course, that could be because there was a 3rd party in the room (the employees' new managers) since we are in the midst of changing our org structure a bit,

 

That leads me to a 2nd question. If the reviewer is not the current manager of record (or will not be for the next review period) should the new manager be present for the review. Our standard is yes, but maybe there's a better way.

stenya's picture

Suzanne, in my experience, sitting on the same side of the table shows openness and trust to your direct. I've noticed that if there's a desk or conference table between me and the other person, I seem more authoritarian than I want to be. Especially for stressful meetings like annual reviews, I want them to feel as if I'm "on their side," and sitting closer helps put them at ease.

This year, five of my directs transitioned to new managers after I wrote their reviews. I invited their new managers to the in-person review meeting, and shared a copy of the review in advance of the meeting. In most cases, after we had the discussion about the previous year and how I arrived at their ratings / raises, I left the room when they started to discuss future plans with the manager. My former directs told me later that they appreciated the "tag team" handoff - they felt like the new manager understood how much I valued them, etc., and it helped them get off to a good start in their new departments. I definitely recommend it, if all parties are open to the idea.

Chris

jennrod12's picture

I don't sit on the same side of the table in 1:1s, so it seems like a departure from the norm to do so in the review.  I may be overly sensitive because I'm preparing to deliver a negative review and I think any change from the norm will make the direct even more nervous.  Has anyone delt with this before?