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The Boomer Bulletin - 2012
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Look Forward to Your Performance Review!

Posted By Sue Thiemann, Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 09, 2012

I look forward to my quarterly performance review (90 day Game Plan) time with Sandra Wiley, COO and Jim Boomer, CIO at Boomer Consulting. Not all my performance reviews have been stellar, but I can say they have always been fair. Performance evaluations are important to the company, the management and to me, the employee. 

Almost everyone performs better when held accountable. Without performance expectations, goals and vision from the company management, employees will often fail. With performance expectations, employees will perform better, be more efficient, feel a sense of accomplishment and develop improved personal and job abilities.  Employees who feel forgotten, unnoticed, or lost in the corporate shuffle usually have trouble staying motivated to perform well. If you expect excellent work from your employees, you must provide constructive feedback and a support system to keep them motivated.Quarterly reviews are a vital part of that support system. There are many other motivational strategies, but other techniques are likely to fail without periodic reviews.

Some managers are great at periodic reviews; others provide little or no constructive feedback to their employees. Here are several basic guidelines managers should follow.

  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • There should be a clear understanding of the employee’s responsibilities. 
  • Conduct the evaluation session in a setting that is conducive to open communication -- private and away from interruption.  
  • Plan the communication; prepare the questions you will ask and try to anticipate concerns. If applicable, provide questions to the employee prior to the session.
  • Begin on a positive note.  
  • Emphasize what you value, like and appreciate about your employee.
  • From there, move to discussing those areas that require improvement.  
  • Never criticize without making specific suggestions for improvement.  
  • Encourage employee comments throughout the session.  While it is important to discuss past performance, significant time should be spent discussing the future – more effective ways to accomplish essential job functions and goals, and continued professional development.  
  • End with a plan of action.

Begin with the end in mind.  Provide a way for the employee to feel comfortable and understand the specific nature and expected outcome of the session.  Boomer Consulting, Inc. (BCI) has developed their own 90 Day Game Plan format providing me a way to document my responsibilities at the beginning of the quarter and to be able to make changes throughout the period. This form is filed on a secure protected site within our company network where only Sandra, Jim and I may view it. I am free to state what I want knowing only the appropriate people will be able to view the information.  When I attend my 90 Day review, I know I will come out of there with a clear plan of action for the next quarter documented in this form.

There should be a clear understanding of the employee’s responsibilities. This may be the job description, the evaluation form or game plan which should interface with the company Strategic Plan. My 90 Day Game Plan provides a clear documentation of my responsibilities and how I support the overall company plan. 

Conduct the evaluation session in a setting that is conducive to open communication -- private and away from interruption.  We meet together in our conference room behind closed doors and with no interruptions. I know it is private and I can address any item without reservation. The fact that I have their full attention and we will not be interrupted is important to me. 

Plan the communication; prepare the questions you will ask and try to anticipate concerns. If applicable, provide questions to the employee prior to the session. With our 90 Day Game Plan I can add items throughout the quarter. Sandra and Jim may view this at their discretion and prepare questions as needed.  I enter my results and my next quarter game plan prior to the session. During the session we review and make changes as needed.  It is more a planned collaboration than a confrontation. 

Begin on a positive note.  The first item in every session is to review the previous quarter. Our form provides me a place to evaluate my previous quarter’s accomplishments. I can indicate complete, on target, didn’t happen, I am very proud of this, etc. By preparing my form ahead of the session, I can "toot my own horn” so to speak and be downright honest with how I felt about my results. Quite often I am harder on myself than Sandra or Jim. This sets the stage for positive communication on other items that need to be addressed. 

Emphasize what you value, like and appreciate about your employee.  Reviewing the past quarter is a great way for you to be specific for the employee. Where I am hard on myself, Sandra or Jim may have a total different take on my performance. Like you provide value to your clients; provide value to your employees by stating what you appreciate. 

From there, move to discussing the next quarter and those areas that require improvement.  Both the employee and supervisor should discuss from their perspectives how well goals were met and address any performance issues. Our form has a place for "Next Course of Action” where direction for improvement or change and be documented. 

Never criticize without making specific suggestions for improvement. Quite often fear of discipline or failure clouds a performance review. By preparing ahead of the session, the discussion is usually less confrontational and more a collaboration of ideas.  One of the top reasons for poor morale is uncertainty. Employees who perform well are recognized and those who need to improve are provided the necessary tools and instructions. Even constructive negative feedback gives an employee a sense of certainty, which will help improve morale.

Encourage employee comments throughout the session.  While it is important to discuss past performance, significant time should be spent discussing the future like more effective ways to accomplish essential job functions and goals, and continued professional development.Ask their opinion about how you are doing as a supervisor. Ask if there is something you can do to help them succeed. Encourage and challenge your employees to excel, and provide a performance improvement plan if your employee is not performing at the desired level.

End with a plan of action. The definition of goal isthe end toward which effort is directed. What do we want from a performance review…to come away with a plan and improved performance. When I enter my performance review session, I look forward to discussing my place and function within the company and to have specific recommendations from management as to what they expect of me. I have that in the 90 Day Game Plan and discussion.

Performance reviews can be an effective and powerful way of creating more loyalty among team members when they’re done right.  Each employee is entitled to a thoughtful and careful review. The success of the process depends on the supervisor’s willingness to engage the employee in honest, positive, constructive conversation and the employee’s willingness to collaborate and respond to this conversation to reach their future goals.

Tags:  performance management 

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