performance reviews …or Performance Coaching

I am going to go “out on a limb” and say that one of the most dreaded duties of most team leaders are performance reviews. I will go out on an even longer and higher limb and say that most team members hate them even more than team leaders do.

Among the many reasons that team leaders hate this process is because, often they do not see it as being helpful or productive. Many view it as a program designed by HR to be endured at least annually. My own belief and experience, as well as those of others, is that to do an effective and meaningful performance review requires that specific behaviors and elements of performance be measurable, understood and agreed upon objectives.

In many organizations, the performance reviews are combined with salary issues. In that system, if we could read a “thought bubble” it would say “just tell me how much my raise is going to be.”  Even when performance and pay are separate, a sigh of relief is expressed and the review goes into the bottom drawer to be forgotten.

There are many reasons why performance reviews are not as effective as we desire, but many of the same reasons continue to be given for their ineffectiveness. I often observe and note the reasons why others say that the process is ineffective.

Here is a list of three of the most frequently cited reasons:

  1. Performance reviews take too much time. Document and preparing reviews for six team members could take as much twelve hours each. For example you could spend as much as one hour per month compiling statistics and data for each team member (12x 6 = 72) hours and preparation time for the each annual review could be another 6 hours. That is nearly two week out of the normal fifty work weeks.
  2. Difficulty in being honest with team members. It may be difficult to be honest with some team members because during a performance review because we know that they try hard to do a good and effective job, but somehow it just does not work out. As decent human beings, we just don’t want to be the one that hurts the feelings of the people with whom we work.
  3. An ineffective process permeates throughout the organization. If you have an ineffective performance review system, there is a good chance that you see little value in the performance review from your team leader or manager. Therefore, if you had less than a satisfactory experience, you may have unintentionally devalued the process and unknowingly provided ineffective reviews to your direct reports.

Performance Coaching

It is important to share with team members when they could have done something more effectively. This includes what they could have done instead, and why the alternative would have been better. Feedback structured in this fashion helps the team member see how they can build on previous performance to generate even more effective performance.

Taking a page from an athletic coach’s playbook, we note that they coach immediately after something has happened, and the “player” has a fresh memory of the situation or problem. In the case of a non-sports analogy, it could be the business opportunity, special challenge, or routine task. This is your chance to explain what caused the failure in acceptable performance or handling of the situation and to point out the results or consequences. The next step is to describe or demonstrate the alternative action or handling of the situation and explain or demonstrate why the alternative action would be more effective. (Read the full article here.)

Related Articles:   Coaching … how did I do?   and   When an Associate Struggles … COACH!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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