As a manager, your most valuable asset is your time.
In Part 1 of “An Alternative to Traditional Performance Management” you learned how to get time back in your week by implementing a 3-part performance management system: funnel management, a weekly behavior plan (a.k.a., “cookbook”) and a personalized development plan.
In Part 2, you’ll learn a system for reducing your time spent on, and your team’s anxiety about, their performance review.
This performance review system assumes that you believe each of your direct reports can perform in their role given proper managerial direction.
If that assumption is incorrect about any of your direct reports, ask yourself why that person is still a member of your team. If you can’t answer that question, it might make sense to seek a second, outside opinion.
Typically performance reviews are done, at the most, twice a year and are “fit in” around other business even if the review is on your calendar.
Especially in sales, performance reviews usually come down to “missed your target, bad kid,” or “hit your target, good kid” with a few touchy feely moments thrown in and advice to either “keep hittin’ those numbers” or “hit your numbers next time.. or else.”
Rarely does either party, you or your direct report, leave feeling like the review was a good use of time nor do reviews provide any clear next steps or deadlines for either party in terms of your direct report’s development.
A great performance review has three parts.
- Solid up-front contract. An up-front contract is like an agenda, except an up-front contract also includes outcomes for the review and the both you and your direct report agree to the agenda and outcome. One of the reasons direct reports dread reviews is they feel they have no control over the agenda. Even if asked for their input, their belief is their review will be a “good kid/bad kid” session. A solid up-front contract relieves that anxiety.
- Focus on specific behavior. Another reason why direct reports loath reviews is they feel they are being personally attacked when you talk about their performance. Using the cookbook talked about in Part 1 keeps the focus on your direct report’s behavior, so you preserve their dignity, which helps to keep your conversation at an adult level. Because you do weekly cookbook review sessions with each of your direct reports your performance reviews will be shorter and focused on specific areas for improvement.
- Understand how your direct report communicates. However you like to communicate, chances are your direct reports communicate differently. For example, if you are direct, to-the-point and only want to talk about results while the direct report you are reviewing likes to dive into details neither of you will leave this review satisfied. Using a behavioral communications model like Extended DISC will help you a) understand how you and each of your direct reports communicate and b) how you can modify your style so your suggestions for performance improvement actually get through and stick.
You might think that using this system means you will do weekly performance review meetings.
If you take a traditional view of performance reviews then, yes, you are correct.
On the other hand, if you consider performance reviews as a series of feedback loops with opportunities to correct behavior regularly as opposed to rarely you might see that an ongoing discussion of your direct reports’ performance will lead to greater job satisfaction and improved performance.