Last week I started a series aimed to help companies fix broken performance management systems. We've all see the headlines over the last few years aimed at changing or even eliminating traditional review systems. Last week's advice: hire people that fit your culture and provide crystal clear expectations of success for each employee and you're well on the way to fixing your broken performance management system.
Next, conduct regular check-ins with
employees to review their performance, at least monthly. That's right, a 1:1 meeting with each employee, every month. I've had many managers tell me they don't have time to meet with all of their employees. Really? Isn't that the job of a manager? My advice to them is always the same - "Well, if you don't have time for your employees, they'll find someone (or something aka as a union or another job) that does...
Now, to be clear, I’m talking about a regular monthly discussion about employee performance and development goals. I am not suggesting that you should only talk to your employees once a month, as good as that might sound to some of you… One good technique is called the five by five. Imagine a sheet of paper that at the top has the employees 4-6 performance goals for the year and their development goals. Then below those goals the employee lists out the five activities they plan to work on over the next month towards accomplishing their annual goal. Then when you meet in 30 days, they first report on progress towards their five planned activities last month, and then they set five more activities for the next month. The manager provides feedback and input. This process repeats every month, forever. For this system to work, you must make it clear that the employee owns their performance, not the manager, which is another tenet of effective performance management.
Fourth, don’t make performance management about the form. It’s about the conversation. I counsel so many employers that keep tweaking their performance review form with poor results. 10 point scales, five point scales, no scales, and on and on. A five by five system, ie, regular structured conversations, and no performance review form can get you closer to optimum performance than most appraisal processes. In fact, companies like Adobe Systems Inc. (think Acrobat Reader and Photoshop) have totally abandoned the annual performance review for a check in system like the five by five.
Finally, remember that when you are giving feedback, whether good or bad, always focus on the behavior, not person. What you ultimately want is more good behavior and less bad behavior. As managers we waste so much productive time by making performance about the character of the person.
Fortunately, giving performance feedback can be learned. Even if you follow the tenants I’ve discussed here, you may want to invest in training for your managers. Success in this area translates directly to improved employee performance which of course translates to improved financial performance.
Think about it! As always, call our Advice and Resolution team for assistance thinking through your PM system. You may also want to visit the Performance Management module of our new Learn and GO platform. Also, for a deeper dive into the subject, you can view the recent 1- hour Performance Management: Webinar.
We encourage you to invite members of your executive team to gather together and listen in the webinar. Then have a meaningful discussion on how to improve your system. Consider having the presenter, CAI's own Tom Sheehan join your meeting virtually.
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