Best practice performance management for leaders and employees is to have a check-in on goals and performance at mid-year. It’s ideal if these conversations take place on a regular basis, real-time or at least monthly (or even quarterly). Giving your employee time to update you on the progress and status of their annual goals and performance sends a strong message. Messages like “This information is important to me and I am interested in your success.” Plus, it sets the tone for accountability.
Here are the reasons performance feedback is important:
- It’s not an annual affair – real time feedback needs to be occurring throughout the year.
- It’s about the results you expect for the next six months – not just a snap shot of the first six months, but a look forward and plan for the future.
- It reveals where an employee’s actual performance stands. The value of the one-on-one time enables you to “level set” with your high performers as well as your lower performers.
- You get a clear picture of who your star performers are!
Other reasons mid-year reviews are important:
- You can adjust goals where appropriate
- Exchange new ideas to get results
- Discuss issues affecting employee performance
- Provide positive and constructive feedback
Performance Review Preparation
The annual workplace ritual of the performance reviews has often been compared to a trip to the dentist to get a root canal. Most employees dread performance reviews and especially the ones conducted at the year end. As mentioned earlier, best practice is to conduct feedback sessions throughout the year. As a manager you need to adequately prepare yourself for this important information exchange. Below are some of the steps to take:
- Always begin your session repeating performance expectations and goals. It’s a great way to ground your employee with the starting point.
- Have your notes and weekly or monthly reports with you. You are human and can’t be expected to remember everything. Lack of documentation forces you to rely on recent memory and this makes you susceptible to errors about things that occurred earlier in the year.
- Ensure that previous performance issues have been dealt with timely. Review time is not the time to address serious issues that occurred months before. As a manager, it’s ideal to learn to recognize, diagnose and discuss performance problems as they occur. A pattern of performance issues not dealt with speaks volumes about you as a leader of others.
- Always have appropriate performance examples to share with your employee. You are not there to berate your team members but to teach and coach them.
- Find out what is expected of you in your mid-year review by asking your boss what outcomes she/he wants prior to the meeting.
- Set up the meetings as it is “your” meeting!
- You should give your manager examples of how your skills and knowledge have grown since your last performance discussion.
- Stick with the facts about your results, both good and bad.
- Avoid being defensive whenever the manager gives you feedback. Take it with grace and an open mind. Also ask questions to seek to understand their point of view.
- Expect the best outcome and prepare yourself mentally for things you might hear from your boss.
What competencies you’ll practice in the mid-year performance check-in:
- Effective communication skills
- Giving feedback and receiving feedback
- Motivating others
- Results orientation
- Critical thinking skills
- Open mindedness
- Humility and transparency
- Managerial Courage
This month I’ll be breaking down each of the above competencies from a leadership perspective. Consider this a refresher for those of you planning your one-on-one discussions with your employees in July. If you find yourself needing a sounding board, contact me!