Think about the best performance review you've ever had – what made it great? I’m guessing it was not a stand alone event. Let me explain… Ken Blanchard taught me years ago that rarely will an isolated review of performance pay huge dividends. Only when it is part of a larger process does it (the review) add maximum value. What could that process look like? I’ll suggest five components to a solid Performance Management System.
Role Clarity – If you were going to break your job down into 4 – 6 key roles, what would they be? Would you and your supervisor agree on your key roles? You should.
Clear Performance Goals – Specifically, what are you going to attempt to accomplish over the next 12 months? Your goals may be directly linked to each of your key roles or not. (e.g., If you are a consultant, one of your key roles may be Performance Coaching. The goal may be to help your clients increase their sales by 10%.)
On-going Coaching – During the course of the year, you and your supervisor should check your progress vs. plan and make adjustments as needed. Perhaps some of your strategies and tactics need to change, or maybe the goal itself needs to be modified. These are extremely valuable conversations to have DURING the year.
Review of Actual Performance – This is the step in the process that most people associate with performance management. It is the time to talk about what was actually accomplished compared to what was planned.
Targeted Development Plans – The final step in the process is to create a development plan to make the next 12 months of performance better than the last 12 months. If you have no critical gaps in key roles, we encourage our staff to create a plan that will leverage an existing strength in the upcoming year. A development plan is not optional, regardless of performance.
Several years ago, one of my team members challenged me to be sure the day of his performance review would be the best day of his year. When I asked a few probing questions, he said, “I should be affirmed regarding what I did well and challenged on the things to improve in the coming year - that’s a great day!” The process above should ensure that you and your team members have a “great day” and performance will improve along the way.