It’s review time; time to talk about your performance over the last month, quarter or (heaven forbid) year. Even if you have hit all your goals and are feeling good about your work, the idea of a performance review might still be leaving you with an uncomfortable feeling.
It doesn’t matter what side of the table you’re sitting on, and you probably sit on both – as a manager and a team member, performance conversations aren’t that fun. Additionally, mishandled performance conversations can negatively impact your team and lead to reduced engagement, lower performance and higher turnover. It’s time to think about shaking up your performance management.
Here are a few simple points that will help you make performance conversations constructive, fair and engaging:
- Be Consistent. There has been a wealth of research in recent years that suggests that moving from rigid, yearly reviews to continuous coaching is a much more effective approach to performance. Set a cadence to have your conversations regularly and don’t skip them. Have regular check-ins to track progress and see where support is needed.
- Culture is key. Company culture and engagement are critical to your ability to attract and keep great people. The way you handle performance should reflect your company’s culture. Use the same language and philosophy when creating and discussing performance management. If your company values clarity and acting quickly, talk about it weekly. If you value community, talk about the person’s impact on their team-mates, as well as how they’ve contributed to reaching defined targets and figures. Make sure that your process has the look and feel of your brand.
- Be real, be kind. Don’t use corporate slogans or talk in acronyms, instead be open and honest. Have respect for individuality and celebrate the fact that everyone is different. I worked with an inspiring people leader who often said “kill them with kindness.” It was remarkable seeing the results from a kind approach in performance conversations compared to at best, long dry conversations and at worst, intimidation or outright threats. Coach your people with constructive feedback, don’t manage them by pointing out things they might be lacking.
No one wants to sit through a performance appraisal styled after a corporate firm from the 90’s. Performance can be a supportive, engaging process that is rewarding for the leader as well as the individual. There is a wealth of information on dealing with performance management, and ultimately the approach that fits your organisation will (and should!) be different.