A woman celebrates with her dog and coworker over Zoom. Culture is king for teams!

Key Takeaways

Laura's team requested actionable feedback, but she doesn't have the bandwidth to fight recency bias and draft ten performance reviews.

Kona's AI-powered coach helped Laura notice patterns and draft a comprehensive first draft, fast.

Kona helped Laura write a performance review she's proud to share, without taking an entire afternoon to ensure quality.

The Case for Reviews You Can Use

The end of the year marks the start of performance review season for Happy Money. Laura Zinnsmeister, Director of Product Design, wanted this year’s reviews to be different.

Laura’s team had given her feedback about how they dreaded review season. “My team was saying, ‘I hate reviews because they're not useful for me. I really want feedback that I can use.’” 

Laura knew this feeling well, and often dreaded writing reviews herself. “There's a little bit of shame around writing reviews. Like, ‘I don't feel like this is as good as it could be for you.’ The other feeling is a deep-set apathy––“I did this because we had to do it. And I know it's not going to be useful for you. It's all stuff that you've already heard. But here it is on record.’”

Laura felt like she owed her team actionable, high-quality reviews that eliminated recency bias. “The things that were happening recently weren't necessarily the things that they could use improvement on. I realized I can't rush through this.”

The Challenges of Writing a Good Review

However, this required a lot more effort. Laura needed to aggregate data for each report from a dozen sources––their Asana todos, weekly sync documents, list of projects, year’s-worth of one-on-one notes, program update dashboard, and operating principles documentation. This work would take hours, just to get an accurate picture of a teammate’s performance. 

“The really difficult part is the pattern finding. It’s finding the meaningful patterns that can result in meaningful feedback that my direct report can take.”

Once she mapped all of her resources, Laura needed to write answers to Lattice’s questions. It often took several drafts to ensure that her review properly captured her feedback and hours if the feedback was challenging to deliver. “That’s always the hardest part––the handful of reviews that you have to write with really critical, really hard feedback, where you have to write it in a way that the person will be open to hearing it.”

The prospect of doing this manually filled her with dread. Laura had 10 reviews to write this season and limited time as-is.

“Our People team encourages you to block off time in your calendar and spend 30-minutes per person. This year was so chaotic, I squeezed it in any time I didn’t have a meeting. Honestly, I was doing a lot of it after hours in the evenings and on weekends.”
Laura Z, Happy Money

The AI-Powered First Draft

Laura was stuck. The reviews her teammates wanted required a massive time investment she simply didn’t have. So she turned to Kona.

Laura went to Slack and opened up a coaching session with Kona. She began explaining the feedback she needed to write and shared context on her employee’s performance, projects, and situation. Kona referenced Happy Money’s documentation on Operating Principles and Lattice’s questions, asking follow-up questions to dig deeper into certain areas. 

Once Kona had enough information, it provided a first draft of a performance review. Laura was delighted. “That's what I need, the AI to be able to take loads of data, written data, written notes,  and find the patterns for me.”

Laura could grab sentences and build a performance review in Lattice that reflected her feedback in an even-toned and kind manner. “Every time I was stealing sentences directly from it, I was like, ‘You wrote it better than I would write it!’ It’s unbiased. It was written in a way that would be much more receivable. The sentences resonated so well with what I wanted to say.”

Laura was able to complete each review in around 30-minutes per person, reaching the high level of quality and actionability that her teammates had requested. “I could easily have spent half a day dedicated to each person's reviews to get it to the depth that I got with Kona.”

From Tough Review to Transformative Feedback

This was especially transformative for a particularly tough review with difficult feedback. “There's always one difficult review to write and I dread it every time. My instinct is always to be like, ‘Screw it, I don't want to deal with this’ because I overthink all my words. But Kona was able to take the emotion out of it. It gave me suggestions on better ways to write what the actual problems were outside of just my emotions around it.”

Laura not only completed her performance reviews, but she created reviews that she could be proud of. “At the end of the day, I felt magnitudes more confident about what I wrote and its ability to be received then I would have without Kona. It's given me the confidence that what I wrote is inclusive of everything this person has done for me this year. And not just what's happened recently.”

Laura also impressed the People team, who regularly spot checks difficult reviews. “I told our People team that I used Kona for it. They read it and they were like, ‘Holy Cow, this is perfect. If it were me receiving it, I would want to change based on this feedback.’ Honestly, they were very pleased with the results. I was very pleased with the results.”

Kona completely changed Laura’s relationship with performance reviews.

“I don't think I've ever felt this way before. I am magnitudes more confident. I am legit so excited to share this feedback with my team members. Like who’s said that about performance reviews before?”
Laura Z, Happy Money

Try Kona for free today

Get leadership advice when you need it

Try Kona for Free

Kona Logo

The Leadership Coach
for remote managers

LinkedIn IconX icon
Copyright (c) 2024. All Rights Reserved. Kona uses a large language model (LLM) for summarization, content, and coaching. Inaccurate content may be generated by LLMS.