It’s that time of year- yeah! The annual performance review season…when managers scramble to track, measure and discuss performance with employees, in an attempt to focused employees on key priorities and improve performance, attitude, commitment, trust and engagement, all in one hour.
Oh right, you also squeeze in a quick chat about this year’s “raise” as you wrap up the meeting [perhaps awkwardly].
I usually joke that performance reviews are “universally” hated, but this is close to the truth.
Employees and managers dread doing them and question the value of the traditional annual review process. Even the largest employers struggle with improving employee performance and engagement based on this time-consuming process. More than half admit there is limited alignment of “pay for performance” in their process.
“Performance management is often a source of great frustration for employees who do not clearly understand their goals or what is expected of them at work. For these employees, annual reviews and developmental conversations feel forced and superficial, and it is impossible for them to think about next year’s goals when they are not even sure what tomorrow will throw at them.”
(Source: State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders, Gallup 2015)
In fact, by 2015 12% of the Fortune 100 decided to eliminate them.
Since large employers are abandoning this very corporate practice, you may think you should do the same at your business.
The question to ask is: “was the new system any better at linking performance to rewards and enhancing a culture of engagement?”
A new study by advisory firm CEB found that measures of employee engagement and performance dropped by 10% when they stopped conducting annual reviews!
According to a Wharton article that summarizes this research paper, “Managers actually spent less time on conversations, and the quality of those conversations declined. Without a scoring system to motivate and give structure, performance management withered. As one manager told CEB: “When I gave someone a low score in the past, I felt responsible for helping them out, now I just don’t feel that I have to spend time doing that anymore.”
Wow, scary stuff! When managers don’t “have” to conduct annual review meetings, they actually might have less interaction with their team. Even the imperfect process is holding managers partly accountable to coach their team.
Here are several articles and books that explain the flaws with this universal practice, and some solutions that have been tried:
Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins, Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What To Do Instead
Garold Markle, Catalytic Coaching: The End of The Performance Review
Charles Jacobs, Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn’t Work and Other Supervisory Lessons from Brain Science
Now that you see the challenges with traditional performance review, read my article to learn about the “cutting edge” practices that are replacing it: “Replace Your Broken Annual Review with “Ongoing Performance Management”
Lately I have been sharing with you resources to 1) Clarify the best use of your time, 2) Create a delegation wish list of your “stop doing” tasks, and 3) Identify to whom to delegate this list.
By delegating, you are creating a “win” for you AND a “win” for you high performers.
Your high performers crave challenging assignments and want to know they are being developed for future growth.
In fact, “opportunities” to develop is the number one retainer and engager of your top people- the least expensive and most powerful reward your organization has to build your A team.
To continue your delegation journey, I created a 18 minute video to show you the whole process. The development action plan process gets all employees working towards goals that benefit them and the company.
Watch the 18 minute Video: Develop High Potentials with Action Plans
(The video shows not only how action plans benefit your best performers, but also the average Jane and the lowest performer as well!)
So go ahead, give up something off your list in January and watch your people grow!
Last week I had very similar conversations with general managers at two very different businesses.
They both had teams that seemed to be less focused, productive and efficient the more time they had.
One is a seasonal business where everyone works overtime for 4 months and then have very little to do during the off-season. Yet despite the “extra” time, the wish list of improvement projects never seems to be completed.
The other business sells short-term consulting solutions to clients, so they are “all hands on deck” for 1-2 months and then may only have smaller tasks to fill in between the big installations. Yet during a slower schedule, clients wait a bit too long for response to their smaller requests.
You may see this in your own business, or in your own week. I know that I sometimes don’t have a large list of “done” items when I have a whole day to work on them, but can check off 1-2 proactive items in a few hours between client meetings.
The cause: What you are witnessing is an actual documented sociological principle I learned in college:
“Work expands to fill the time.”
The solution: plan, develop work habits, and track for accountability
- make a list of what needs to be accomplished – whiteboard on the wall or online tool such as asana.com
- plan the week with your big 3 (projects, not just ongoing work)
- begin each day tackling the next priority item
- end each day re-prioritizing what to focus on the next day
- review regularly, track progress and expect results
- remember that deadlines are motivational– pre-schedule a time to review a specific outcome
These steps will improve your own focus on activities that achieve results.
They also work well to focus your team members, build their work habits and hold them accountable.
The key is planning with progress reports in a weekly coaching conversation.
Perhaps take this Friday afternoon to plan out a few items on your “wish list” and then assign one 90 minute task to each day next week to make progress on the first one.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
I do it, you do, everyone (except the birds and bees) does it… spend time on the WRONG things.
Managers and owners spend our time coaching and training our People to be more focused, more effective, more productive… but are we?
As a fan and follower of Laura Stack (the self-proclaimed “Productivity Pro”), I was excited to read her latest book, “Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time.”
She has a simple framework that outlines the 3 T’s — and is relevant for every People Coach (from to the CEO of a $1 billion firm to a small business owner with 5 people):
1. Thinking Strategically (Business)
2. Teamwork (Team)
3. Tactics (Self)
I call this Plan, People, and Process… and she has a nice breakdown of what a manager “should” be doing.
Get her book summary for free at this link: “Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time.”
(There is even a self-assessment on pages 13-17 if you are up for the feedback!)
As the coach, you have to both set the example as well as personally focus on the Right Things for your team to be effective and successful.
“*Managing by Wandering Around” doesn’t work anymore! (*A great term coined to Tom Peters and still used today by many successful small business owners, who are unfortunately trapped in their business because their team relies on constant attention.)
Many organizations are starting to realize that “prior job experience” is only one element that determines success in a job role. (Especially after we have seen new hires with “tons of experience” be less than stellar performers).
Since 82% of managers are in the wrong job— mid-size and large employers are looking toward other indicators to use for selection, career paths, training and development.
This has led organizational development experts to develop what is called the “competency model” process.
Competencies are a group of skills that make up a “global” trait that someone can apply to many different jobs.
- For example, someone with problem-solving competency might potentially excel as a scientist, consultant, product designer or manager.
- If they also have leadership competencies, then a career path and development to manager might be appropriate.
- If they are results oriented, then perhaps consultant would be a good match.
To hire or promote the person with the highest success potential in a new role, you have to look at the experience as the evidence of a competency strength– “related experience” alone is not enough.
The “best practices” use competency-based interview questions to identify ideal candidates during the selection process, in the evaluation of current employees for job fit and are especially helpful to craft training and development action plans.
In fact, this information is so powerful we build the People Plan model to include detailed behavior-based descriptions of 30 competencies, and include them in every aspect of our coaching model.
Click here to see <a href="http://people-plan check that.com/15-competencies/”>15 key competencies for most jobs — How will you use these?
Last week I was speaking with a small business owner who told me “you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know…
but HOW do I get my team working together to grow the business..
HOW do I get out of overwork and overwhelm?”
In a sentence, his firm lacks Accountability.
But what can/ should he do?
To quote an owner who has made this transition: “Knowing doesn’t make the difference.. it is Doing that matters.”
We talk about Accountability as if it is a “thing” that other companies have but we can’t seem to find, an elusive dream, a pink elephant.
Accountability is not something that is “done” to people but a contract between you (as coach) and your team member.
They know the Right Things to do, how and when to do them, what Right looks like, and agree to Get’r Done (said in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice).
It’s a process of being clear, getting people to commit, and then coaching with feedback, re-direction, praise, follow-up and sometimes tough love. It’s the proverbial “holding someone’s feet to the fire” or “inspecting what you expect.”
It’s also important that you have process to setup, agree to and expect Accountability.
The aforementioned owner thought his main problem was “finding better people”– yet a “better employee” will not be much more effective in a team who lacks accountability as a system.
Here are two quick videos from leaders on the accountability front to explain more:
From the Zenger Folkman group’s author Kathleen Stinnett, Accountability Success in Coaching
Great overview from Roger Connors of the Oz Principle: Steps to Accountability- Above the Line and Below the Line