In his book, The End of the Performance Review: A New Approach to Appraising Employee Performance, Dr. Tim Baker suggests a method to improve performance conversations. Yes, I said “conversations” . . . plural.
Rather than a mid-year and end of year performance discussion, Baker suggests five fifteen-minute themed conversations; one per month and five times out of every six months. How, you might ask, am I going to fit this into my organization’s current work schedule? As a supervisor, you establish and maintain the balance between your focus on your people and their performance and your focus on your work products and/or services. Meeting with your employees 10 months out of the year allows you two months (when you are at your busiest) to focus on the work to be done at the height of your season.
These short, themed, regular conversations allow you to create a more collaborative approach to employee performance and development.
What You’ll Learn
The chart below identifies the five conversation themes, along with some starter questions. Avoid lumping all five themes into one 75-minute session or even two or three thirty-minute sessions. The idea is to have regular conversations with your employees throughout the six month period. Focus each session on one of the themes and meet with your employees each month (except the months when you are busiest). Consider discussing Climate Review or Innovation and Continuous Improvement near the beginning of the fiscal year, followed by Strengths, Opportunities for Growth and Learning and Development later in the year.
Here is a summary of the five conversation themes:
- Job satisfaction, morale and communication
- How would you rate your current job satisfaction?
- How would you rate morale?
- How would you rate communication?
- How would you suggest improving morale/communication?
- Snapshot of current climate
- Identify and determine solutions to any problems
Strengths and Talents
- Effectively utilizing employee strengths
- What are your strengths and talents?
- How can your strengths and talents be best used in your current and future roles?
- Identify the team member’s strengths
- Develop their roles to best use the strengths
Opportunities for Growth
- Improving performance standards
- What are some opportunities for your professional development?
- How can I help you?
- Identify current and expected standards of performance
- Discuss and agree on tangible ways to develop performance
- Align employee expectations with future goals
Learning and Development
- Support and growth
- What are some skills you would like to learn?
- What learning opportunities would help you in your current and future work?
- Identify training to build strengths and boost performance in critical areas
Innovation and Continuous Improvement
- Ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness
- What is one way you could improve your own work efficiency?
- What is one way we can improve our work?
- Identify how to help employees improve their efficiency, both individually and as a part of the team
Dr. Baker provides an additional suggestion: Explain your new approach to your employees. If they are only used to talking to you twice a year, meeting with you every month could seem onerous. Give them advanced notice of the conversation theme, so they can be thinking about their responses. These discussions are meant to encourage dialogue, reduce the stress of the formal annual performance review and help you develop the skills you need in your employees.
Enjoy the conversations!
What is your current performance appraisal schedule? How can you change your current schedule to include more on these short, themes conversations throughout the year?