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Employee Performance Reviews Suck

Updated: May 2

At CWA Summit this past year, I was in a gym owners round table and the topic of employee reviews came up. One owner of a well known chain of gyms railed against them saying they don't do them because they are a huge waste of time. Another owner of multiple gyms countered that they do them twice a year and they are the most valuable tool they have for performance management. So who is right? Well, as with most things it isn't binary. It's multi-factorial and what you put into it equals what you get out of it.

If your annual employee review process is uninspired and checks the box but doesn't provide real insight it will likely be a giant time suck with not much value. Or perhaps more importantly if it is the only tool in your chest for performance management, I highly doubt it is having the impact needed to effectively manage organizational performance year-round.


A holistic performance management ecosystem delivers value

Make Performance Management a Part of the Day-to-Day

In order to maintain a healthy culture and workplace, we need to be transparent and consistent in how we approach performance management, including disciplinary action when needed. Good performance management happens year-round and always:

- Is pro-active and places an emphasis on coaching and professional development
- Show employees a problem with their performance exists and introduces a solution
- Provides clear explanations of consequences when expectations are not met
- Ensures consistency and fairness
- Outlines expectations and creates plans to help the employee succeed
- Ensures both the employee and the organization are considered and protected

Being Proactive is the King of Performance Management

By being proactive we can avoid a majority of behavioral and performance issues with team members. It is the job of all managers to coach and teach rather than to punish.

- Take the time to invest in their performance and success. Set clear expectations
- Be comfortable delivering in-the-moment feedback to reinforce positive behaviors and ensure negative behaviors don’t perpetuate into more serious issues
- Your team should always know where they stand in terms of their performance. No one should ever be surprised when they receive a warning or a performance improvement plan

Proactive professional development positively impacts all areas of your business.
Supports company growth

- As the business grows, you will only be able to grow quickly when you’ve developed people from within
- Increases employee retention. Access to learning is the #1 reason people stay at jobs. People want to continue to grow and are less likely to leave if they know there is a plan for them
- Increases employee happiness
- Team members with opportunities are happier because they are engaged

Common Mistakes in Performance Management

- Ignoring the unacceptable behavior in the hopes that
- It will correct itself
- No one will notice
- The employee will leave
- Or because it’s too hard
- Addressing all behavior issues at once in hopes of delivering a harsher penalty
- Not being consistent in how they deliver disciplinary action
- Failing to listen to employees
- Never providing feedback
- Not being open to receiving feedback

A Good 1:1 Meeting is the Holy Grail

Managers should be having 1:1s with their employees at least every other week. A good 1:1 includes the following elements:

- Performance and Work Management
- Review of priorities & workload for the week → identify roadblocks, support needs, etc
- Ask your team member: “What priority would you give ME this week?”
- Discuss any overdue work and upcoming deadlines
- As the manager, it is incumbent on you to help find the highest value work and arrange work effort collaboratively with your team member

- Goal review as appropriate (at least once per quarter)→ as a manager, it’s your job to make sure your team is on track

1:1 best practices

- Know yourself first → If you don’t know where you’re leading from, you can’t lead well. Know your strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, and needs
- Know who you are leading → Get to know them personally as appropriate, understand their needs and ambitions
-Use your 1:1 time with your team members for trust building & engagement
- This is the place to create and allow vulnerability
- If you don’t create an environment where people feel they can fail, people will never try hard or innovate
- Asking what people need to succeed:
- Communication type
- Management style
- Boundaries

The point is: When you don't take performance management seriously, or you hope that disciplinary procedures or annual employee reviews will keep your organization and culture thriving, you are going to struggle. Take the time to put in place strong leaders with the right skills to manage performance year-round and day-to-day

Rise Above Consulting has decades of experience building and implementing performance management frameworks and coaching executives and leaders to successfully drive high performing culture. Book a free consult to learn how Rise Above can help you manage performance like a pro.

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