March brings a number of changes including Daylight Savings time (which, as of 2023, will be permanent) and Spring, a day of equilibrium as we begin to experience more daylight through the next several months. As we traditionally look to this month for signs of renewal in the ground and trees around us, it’s an ideal time to consider the same in your business. One of the most powerful ways is to review goals, their advancement so far and plans to expand their success over the next quarter.
If you have a team, reviewing their goals – especially as they relate to company plans – has many benefits. This review often takes the form of a performance review and I know many employers dislike this important function. It can create an uncomfortable meeting in which your beliefs about their performance fall short of what they believe they’ve done. In fact, I urge you to do them at least semi-annually. Here are some reasons why:
- First, of course, is to acknowledge the employee’s efforts on your behalf. A performance review will often reveal a variety of achievements and initiatives undertaken by employees of which you may not be aware. It’s re-affirming for you to discover the creativity of employees on your behalf. For them, it increases their commitment to be acknowledged for such efforts.
- A review is also a good time to ensure that both you and your employee share the same understanding of their job’s priorities. What they may focus on daily may not be your expectation of their functions and a review can shift their behaviors to your preferences while also showing how they have been functioning in what they believed was important to you.
- It’s your opportunity to ask: ‘what would you like to learn next?’ What you’re really asking is: ‘how do you plan to increase your value to us?’ This is a way to focus and guide your employee to those activities that most contribute to your long-term company goals.
- This process also allows your employee to voice their thoughts about how the company is doing, improvements it might make. While you may have the big picture well in hand, a function-specific employee is an expert on the small and necessary processes that lead to the big picture. They’re ideally placed to reveal opportunities to streamline, reduce costs, understand competitive actions, customer concerns. When will you hear these candidly if not during their review?
So, how do you get this done so you both come out ahead? We recommend you schedule the appointment with a message that it’s a private meeting for you both to share insight about the company’s plans and how the employee has been and will contribute to that; it’s an opportunity to acknowledge all the employee does on your behalf and how they want to grow next.
Ask them to come to the meeting with:
- a list of their daily or weekly tasks
- their recommendations for improvement
- what they’d like to learn or grow into next
- how that will contribute to the business overall
Have them bring a summary of their highlighted achievements during the past increment of time; you may have no idea of their pride of achievement on your behalf and this is your opportunity to acknowledge them. A sense of contribution and being acknowledged for it is crucial to employee retention.
Using all this information, you’ll both agree on the employee’s next course of action (shifted priority, new training, new responsibility) and deadlines for achievements. You’ll both agree on the next review meeting. More importantly, you’ll both agree on how any of this, or other benchmarks you both agree to, will lead to promotion, raise, bonus, profit-sharing or some other reward. And, when I say ‘agree’, I mean you both sign and date your names on that written plan.
A performance review done in this way is not combative and, instead, leads to opportunities for you both. The company reinforces its commitment to a valued employee and the employee is heard and acknowledged as such. This also increases the ease with which you continually reduce your focus on operations and increase your focus on vision and growth. Want a clear plan on how to get this done? Reach out to us anytime to discuss a win-win performance review process.