Performance reviews and Performance Management have been hot topics for a couple of decades or more. Like meetings, Performance Management gets a bad name because WAY too many leaders don’t approach this important work like it matters!
With proper prioritization and appropriate planning, any manager or leader can make performance management a strong differentiator in the quest to recruit and retain the best talent. What if you prepared for doing Performance Management like it was one of your biggest priorities? If you worked at it and put emphasis on it, is it possible that your business would begin to operate better daily? Of course! Performance Management ties the day-to-day behaviors of your team to the overarching business objectives and goals that need to get done to keep driving your business forward. Alignment in your company will improve immediately with focus and excellence in managing performance.
These days business professionals all need to accomplish more, with fewer resources, and business pressures are driving leaders of organizations to ensure that performance is strong and consistently robust. Given that context, it’s easy to see why managing performance with excellence is worth the investment. Here are some solid Best Practices to help you get started in being a better Performance Manager:
- Think of performance management as a way of life, a way of running the best team or best company that you can. Everything that you do to become a great performance manager will make the business perform significantly better.
- Communicate expectations effectively. As you bring on new associates to your team, make sure that they are well-trained and on-boarded to your company in such a way that they understand your culture and their role and their daily responsibilities. I strongly recommend a detailed conversation where you paint a great picture of what “great performance” looks like in their role. That eliminates any possibility that things can get fuzzy later on what you were expecting, right?
- Help the new associate to understand strategy and how their role fits into your strategy. Then encourage them to work with you to develop 4 or 5 SMART goals that will help you both agree, if the year’s work warrants rewards and advancement. Goals must anticipate key results and responsibilities for each role and need to be clear and concise. Discuss the goals before finalizing them to be certain that they are clearly understood, and your associate commits to them.
- Performance Management is not a one-time thing. Throughout the year, goal setting, planning, measurement, feedback and performance coaching need to be happening at your monthly one to one meetings and in a mid-year performance checkpoint so that there is no chance for any incongruence between you and your associate, or any surprises.
- Any consultant or business coach worth their salt will tell you that it gets ugly pretty quickly if you’ve got an underperforming associate and you’ve cut corners on documenting their underwhelming performance or lack of performance. This introduces your company to risks of many kinds such as legal, financial, loss of goodwill and morale. Don’t ever cut corners on documenting the content and context of each performance conversation during the year. It’s the right thing to do and will save your bacon any time there is a conflict.
- Plan for performance by establishing an action plan with specific tasks and timelines to help the associate begin working toward the results that will be expected of them during the current performance review year.
- Measure performance progress toward results throughout the year. Discuss progress, or if necessary, lack of progress during the year in your regular one on one performance discussions at least monthly. No performance review should EVER include a shocking surprise where the associate and manager are in serious disagreement about the performance results or how to view them. If monthly measurements and candid conversations have been taking place, surprises are eliminated at the annual review meeting because expectations and performance have been discussed in detail many times during the year, eliminating surprises.
- Ask other members of your team to contribute to the completion of the portrait of the associate’s performance during the year. I strongly encourage you to use a 360-degree feedback form and process to more fully complete the performance portrait. An added benefit is that criticism or praise from multiple sources is a lot harder to discount than from one source. Frankly, consistent criticism from multiple sources is just impossible to ignore. This will help you with associates who possess a low amount of emotional intelligence or self-awareness.
Prepare for managing performance like it’s one of your most important priorities and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your business will begin to operate like a well-oiled machine! Commit to it and don’t cut corners! Your team will thank you!