Coaching and mentoring employees is a critical part of any Manager's job. Providing feedback to your direct reports can come in many forms and frequencies. Feedback can be either positive or negative and should always be presented as constructive. In fact, candid and constructive feedback, even if negative, is usually very appreciated by the employee. A recent Harvard Business Review study found that 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback and 72% say their performance would improve with more feedback.
How often should you meet with each employee? We recommend at a minimum conducting a monthly 1:1 meeting with each of your employees. 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.
What does the meeting look like? 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 you the manager, which is another tenet of effective performance management.
Here's a sample meeting flow to get you started:
- Begin the meeting with some casual conversation which will tend to relax your employee and get them to converse and open up. A simple “How are you?” or “How is the job going this week?” are good ways to start. Listening to their response may provide you with some insight on how you approach this meeting and about shaping the discussion.
- The employee reviews progress towards last months five activities and / or development plan. Look for obstacles that got in the way and how / if they overcame them. Look to see if certain tasks are continuing to push out each month.
- The employee then reviews the five activities they need to achieve next month in order to ultimately accomplish their annual goals / plan. Find out what obstacles stand in their way of accomplishing their activities. Are there processes or procedures which are difficult and or frustrating to work with or cause delays? Ask how you can help to remove these barriers.
- Talk about alignment of priorities and values between the employee, you and the organization. Be candid about where you see where they are, and comparing it to where they think they are. Work with them to make adjustments so you align more closely with each other’s expectations.
- Now that you have discussed the current performance, you may want to review a few long-range goals, initiatives or projects. These may be stretch goals or also working on a cross-functional team. Both sides should have something to gain by meeting these objectives. Establish checkpoints along the way to ensure these longer-range objectives are staying on track as well.
No one has time to waste in a long unproductive meeting. Getting in to a regular 1:1 meeting rhythm like we suggest above with employees will help ensure the right items are discussed and we remain focused on the right plans. Regular feedback is even more important in this time when 60% of employees report not getting any useful feedback in six months.
For more information on giving performance feedback, check our our Coaching and Feedback module on . As always feel free to reach out to any member of the team for assistance.
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