One of the most critical aspects of leadership is conducting effective performance reviews. Performance is the key component of an effective organization. Performance can mean meeting profit expectations, introducing effective marketing strategies, and hiring and mentoring high quality personnel. However, it is clear that without the latter, exemplary staff, the former components cannot be realized. Furthermore, the management of effective human resources is dependent on clear, consistent and effective performance reviews.
The focus of the assessment should be based purely on performance objectives. Because there is feedback from the manager to the employee as milestones are achieved, this discussion in the assessment is just a review of what was previously discussed, and should only take up about one quarter of the time. Additionally, there should be few surprises. If the employee was not on track or something needed to be changed, it would have been indicated along the way during what may be called a mid-course adjustment.
The rest of the meeting looks to the future. For the employee who is highly effective, doing better may not necessarily imply quantity or quality of work, but may address enlarging the employee’s influence in an area such as peer mentoring. This portion of the meeting is a collaborative discussion about how the employee can continue to contribute to the success of the team.
When dealing with someone in a management position, use can be made of a 360-degree review or peer review. Feedback is solicited from a wider group including fellow employees, peers who are functioning in similar capacities in different divisions, and even customers. The audience for gathering review data could be anyone with whom the manager works regularly or with whom they have regular contact. For example, other department heads that interact with the employee at management level meetings would be a very valuable source for performance input.
No matter what the position of the employee, management or non-management, the focus must remain clearly on performance objectives. If the company is using a framework suggested in a previous article on how to create and sustain employee engagement, then the three areas outlined: resources, recognition and development could provide focus areas for feedback. The question that managers should then be asked is, “How are you addressing these three areas for the employees you are responsible for managing?”