April 10 , 2019 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
Most employees look forward to their performance review the way they look forward to a funeral. They are equally dreaded by the managers who deliver them.
Despite the goal, you give employees constructive feedback about their work to encourage individual performance, most are a dreary exercise in further disillusionment, disconnection and demoralization.
That’s because in many organizations today, reviews aren’t really designed to help employees grow; they’re designed to manage promotions and raises or to go through the motions of performance management and accountability.
Instead, the performance management system goal should be to provide on-going coaching and feedback to employees with the aim of developing and improving employee performance and team effectiveness.
This requires that employees receive on-going constructive feedback about their job performance in relation to their goals, their approach to innovation and the opportunities before them to create value.
Compare this to top flight athletes. They don’t receive reviews a couple of times of year. If they did, they’d fail. Rather, they receive on-going coaching. This type of feedback creates an immediate awareness of what they’re doing right and what they need to do to overcome barriers and do even better.
With this in mind, perhaps it’s time to ditch this archaic exercise.
Master the Coaching Conversation
There are progressive companies out there that have moved away from traditional performance reviews, in favor of creating cultures of coaching, feedback, development, and high performance.
Such organizations have managed to re-shape their cultures to ones based on coaching; where everyone in a leadership role is trained on how to coach. In this way, leaders give their employees constant performance feedback, which in turn, engages employees and creates a desire to continuously improve.
Rather than once or twice yearly, coaching happens throughout the year; possibly every day. And because it is on-going, it eliminates the need for formal annual appraisals and reviews.
You can begin by incorporating the constructive aspects of reviews in your existing one-on-one meetings as an opportunity for feedback and coaching. You can dedicate time during these sessions to a discussion on how the person can enhance their own performance and play to their strengths. In so doing, you remove the unconstructive focus on ratings.
I’ve often heard that managers resist the concept of on-going coaching because they believe it is too time-consuming. Actually, it is quite the opposite.
Managing poor performance is extremely time consuming.
In the traditional system, you have to provide written reviews, spend time with employees to discuss these reviews, monitor progress made based on these reviews and provide corrective feedback as required.
In contrast, on-going coaching might take 5 minutes of a manager’s time every week. Yet it is a powerful force in demonstrating the concern the Manager has for her employee’s development. With such enhanced and regular communication and interaction, corrective measures are more easily and seamlessly applied and results are visible fairly quickly.
You can structure your conversations to first receive an update on the one to three action items agreed to at the last meeting. Second, ask for a success story or a moment of pride. Third, brainstorm either a solution to a problem or an opportunity to pursue. And fourth, agree on one to three action items that the employee will focus on in the coming week.
A Final Word
Coaching conversations are not performance reviews; they are discussions. So talk less and let your employee talk more. Sit back, listen, ask questions for clarity. When it’s your turn to speak, give positive and constructive feedback. Tell your employee what she did well and where you see opportunities for growth. Specific examples are always helpful.
If your employee is doing most of the talking – about her wins and challenges, how she’s learning and growing – then you’ve mastered the art of the coaching conversation.
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