As much as it is seen to be an HR function, performance reviews for employees should fall into your Digital Strategy planning. Digital Strategy touches almost every aspect of the business, and the teams of people working in your organisation are not excluded from this. It grinds me when I hear about companies that perform quarterly (or even biannual) reviews without any sort of catch-up in-between.
While there is argument to be made that traditional KPIs and performance reviews should fall away entirely, they are still a key component of many organisations. And if you’re going to use them, you should at least use them well and to your benefit. In order to do this, you need to touch base with your team members frequently.
Because it is only fair that people know up-front when they are doing something contrary to what is expected, or should be encouraged to continue something good. Way too many managers use these meetings as a whipping post instead of guiding performance and growth to the benefit of both the individual and the organisation. Think of the following situation:
Steve is in a company that completes biannual performance reviews. In January, Steve takes it upon himself to change his way of performing one of his tasks, but does not realise that this is affecting his department’s revenue negatively. Steve happily continues with the process that is making his life easier and his job quicker to perform. In June, Steve walks in to his performance review, only to be roasted for an hour for the decision he made in January having hurt revenue for six months.
Result: Management is annoyed, the company’s bottom line has been hurt for six months, and Steve is considering leaving along with the intellectual property that he has amassed.
This scenario happens far too often. What could have happened in a monthly review was that Steve would be informed of the problem, and given an opportunity to resolve it. Resulting in a correction of the issue up front, and each person being transparent with the other. Crisis averted. His process may even be improved upon collaboratively to benefit both management and himself.
But its too time consuming
This is the most common excuse I’ve heard regarding regular touch points with teams. Managers (particularly the middle kind) are often very busy putting out fires, and complain that they cannot meet staff outside of this quarterly or biannual space.
A performance meeting does not need to be a one-hour long grilling session detailing every task an employee has completed in the time period. It needs to speak to the facts in a manner that is short and to the point. My typical structure for a performance meeting is as follows:
- What is the team member doing well, and should keep doing
- What needs improvement, and how they can go about doing so
- Any concerns to raise
- Any other general discussion points
A meeting like this, if performed regularly, can be completed over coffee in about ten to fifteen minutes. Hardly a major impact. The key is that regular meetings make the meetings shorter. You and your team member are on the same page, and are communicating regularly, so the time taken to discuss the past four weeks is minimal, compared to discussing the (hazy) happenings over the past quarter or half.
But the paperwork…
No one is saying you need to complete an official rating every month. You can still complete these in the quarterly or biannual meetings. The point is that the meetings prior to them are keeping everyone in line with expectations from all sides.
When everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect from the meetings, you cultivate honesty, transparency, and valuable relationships within the workplace. Three items which I believe are powerful components of a mutually beneficial workplace.