Performance Management Secrets: How the Best Leaders Handle Reviews
Benchmark Performance against the Great Performance Profile
Performance reviews are central to running a successful team and business.
You don’t need to wait for a formal performance review to give feedback. When necessary, give constructive feedback immediately as people often learn best when the time between action and feedback is short.
For feedback that can wait, I recommend weekly and monthly meetings.
Weekly meetings usually last 15 minutes. These are a quick opportunity to reflect on the week, identifying any potential issues, and to focus on the week ahead.
Monthly meetings are more detailed, lasting approximately 45 minutes. The employee scores themselves against their Great Performance Profile, and issues are identified that require development through coaching and training. If necessary, encourage employees to strive for even higher standards without being overambitious.
My goal is to celebrate with my staff every month. During the review, we recognise the standards they met and take note of ones they missed.
Great insights can often come from new starters as they don’t have the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality and may be happy to challenge the status quo if you provide an appropriate culture. Simply ask, “What impediments are getting in your way,” and, “What do you think we could do better?” Always thank people for speaking up, whether useful or not. Most importantly, never shoot the messenger. Remember, if you don’t follow up, your credibility is gone and people will ignore your questions in the future.
Monthly meetings are also an opportunity to exercise pastoral care to ensure that employees feel emotionally connected to the business. I ask, “On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your satisfaction in your role?” I use one to 10 for this (rather than the Fibonacci Sequence) because it has been scientifically proven that scores lower than seven indicate that there’s a problem. If someone is too glowing and says that everything’s a 10, then ask, “What would it take to get you to 11?”
If I’m trying to help a Poor Performer improve and they’re not making progress, I normally start the Five-Step Turnaround Process.
With Good Performers, I often find diminishing returns after 12 months of development. Even so, you want to keep Good Performers. Employees who meet expectations are conscientious, don’t require lots of managing and make a positive contribution to the culture.
I always try to develop Great Performers because this helps me learn what makes them so successful. I feed this back into the business, and in this way they often have an even greater impact.
<div class="grey-callout"><p><span class="text-color-purple">Tip 1:</span> Never have pay reviews at the same time as performance review meetings because employees may lose their intrinsic motivation for doing well.</p><p><span class="text-color-purple">Tip 2:</span> I’ve never met anyone who can compartmentalise their personal and professional lives. If someone is going through a rough patch personally, whether because of a house move, marital problem or health scare, then you need to be pragmatic and try to support them. Performance reviews must be secondary to wellbeing.</p><p><span class="text-color-purple">Tip 3:</span> When you’ve clarified the action that you need an employee to take, ask them to verify what they need to do. I’ve often been stunned by how different an employee’s interpretation is from my own. It’s much better to clear up any confusion now than realise that there’s been a misunderstanding weeks later.</p></div>