The Best Performance Review Ever?

Think about the best performance review you’ve ever had – what made it great? I’m guessing it was not a stand alone event. Let me explain… Ken Blanchard taught me years ago that rarely will an isolated review of performance pay huge dividends. Only when it is part of a larger process does it (the review) add maximum value. What could that process look like? I’ll suggest five components to a solid Performance Management System.

Role Clarity – If you were going to break your job down into 4 – 6 key roles, what would they be? Would you and your supervisor agree on your key roles? You should.
Clear Performance Goals – Specifically, what are you going to attempt to accomplish over the next 12 months? Your goals may be directly linked to each of your key roles or not. (e.g., If you are a consultant, one of your key roles may be Performance Coaching. The goal may be to help your clients increase their sales by 10%.)
On-going Coaching – During the course of the year, you and your supervisor should check your progress vs. plan and make adjustments as needed.  Perhaps some of your strategies and tactics need to change, or maybe the goal itself needs to be modified. These are extremely valuable conversations to have DURING the year.
Review of Actual Performance – This is the step in the process that most people associate with performance management. It is the time to talk about what was actually accomplished compared to what was planned.
Targeted Development Plans – The final step in the process is to create a development plan to make the next 12 months of performance better than the last 12 months. If you have no critical gaps in key roles, we encourage our staff to create a plan that will leverage an existing strength in the upcoming year. A development plan is not optional, regardless of performance.
Several years ago, one of my team members challenged me to be sure the day of his performance review would be the best day of his year. When I asked a few probing questions, he said, “I should be affirmed regarding what I did well and challenged on the things to improve in the coming year – that’s a great day!” The process above should ensure that you and your team members have a “great day” and performance will improve along the way.

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Michael Nichoks

9 years ago

Great post as usual, Mark. Do you use a development plan template? Or do you have a short list of items that you include for your team members in their development plans? Michael
http://www.michaelnichols.org

mark

9 years ago

Thanks for your comments! Regarding your question, it really does vary from team member to team member. I want to be sure there are no critical gaps. These would be gaps in core responsibilities. If these exist, we start there. If there are no critical gaps, we look at strengths we can leverage and enhance. One more thing, I challenge people to honor their own learning style and preferences when creating a plan. If they are not a reader, don’t bring a plan that says they are going to read 25 books on a topic over the course of a year. Every plan is highly personalized – just like development needs. I’d love to hear about things that work for you. Good luck!

Bob Tiede

9 years ago

You are 100% correct that Performance Review needs to be an ongoing process not an annual event!
Donald Clifton, Father of Strengths Psychology and author of “Now Discover Your Strengths” has greatly influenced me.
Clifton interviewed over two million world class leaders to find out “What makes successful people successful?” His findings were that:
1. Successful people focus on what they do best (their strengths).
2. Successful people do not focus on overcoming their weaknesses.
3. Successful people understand their talents and strengths and build their lives upon them.
4. Successful companies don’t just accommodate differences in employees, they capitalize on them.
Two flawed assumptions on which most organizations are built:
1. Each person can learn to be competent in almost anything.
2. Each person’s greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness.
Two assumptions on which great organizations build:
1. Each person’s talents remain the same and are unique.
2. Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of their greatest strength.
May I share a word picture? Imagine an NFL Coach doing a performance review of his star Quarterback. He tells him that he is good at reading defenses, passing and handing off the football! But then after a long pause and deep breath the coach continues…..”However there are some things we need to visit about. As an all-around football player you have some serious weaknesses: Your tackling is awful, your blocking is atrocious and no one would ever hire you to kick field goals….so this summer at training camp you will divide your time equally between tackling drills and blocking drills and field goal kicking and should you fail to make progress in all 3 we will have no choice but to let you go!” Whenever I share this, people laugh and I then say, “There are two reasons why you are laughing–what are they?” They quickly say, “First because it is ludicrous that any NFL Coach would do this! Second because that kind of review and Personal Development Plan is exactly what we do in our organization all the time!”
All of this to say–the most important parts of any performance review is assessing whether we as an organization are leveraging the strengths of this person and then helping this person develop a personal development plan to strengthen her/his strengths! If their current role does not leverage their strengths it is unfair to them for us to keep them in that same role.

Grow Your Business

8 years ago

Coming from Buckie in North Scotland, finding good, relevant contentt is hard. I really like your blog. Thanks.

mark

8 years ago

Thanks for you comment! I’m glad you find the content helpful. Please share it with your friends. ALL feedback is appreciated. Mark

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