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April 2006


The Secrets to a Successful Organization - Continued

This month, we continue our discussion of the five secrets to a successful organization. Each secret involves your greatest asset - your people! (If you missed the first two secrets, you can read our e-News archives online.

Let's explore Secret #3: Provide your employees with positive, constructive feedback.

Many companies have a formal performance review process, but it's amazing how few of them actually conduct reviews or give informal feedback to their people. In fact, conducting performance reviews is probably the most disliked part of a manager's job. However, giving positive, constructive feedback is one of the best ways to grow a company!

Years ago, it may have been true that "no news is good news". But in today's workplace, that old adage no longer holds true. To your employees, "no news" could mean that the company doesn't value them or care enough to talk with them. When that happens, many employees become disgruntled and their performance declines, creating even more problems for managers.

People have an innate need to:

  • Know they are doing a good job.
  • Understand what and how they should improve.
  • Understand how they affect company success.
  • Know how they can affect their status and pay.
  • Know how they can get ahead in the company.
  • Be heard and appreciated for their efforts.
  • Have open dialogue with their managers.
  • Have input into their goals.

Let's look at the formal review process.

Written feedback allows a strong performer to see their accomplishments documented and reinforces their efforts. A struggling employee receives a clear message on areas requiring improvement and the encouragement to get there. The process itself provides an opportunity for the manager and employee to develop a stronger relationship, discuss where the company is going and explore how the employee fits into the big picture.

Tips for conducting a performance review:

  • Schedule the meeting at least one week in advance.
  • Allow 1- hours of uninterrupted time.
  • Consider the employee's performance over the full period, not just the past week or month.
  • Provide detailed examples to support your evaluation.
  • Ask the employee to complete a self-evaluation and compare their evaluation with yours. (This creates an opportunity to discuss any differences and provides a better understanding for both parties.)
  • Encourage the employee to discuss their perspective.
  • If appropriate, modify the evaluation to reflect legitimate employee issues.
  • Discuss areas of improvement and new goals. (Develop timelines and ask how you can support the employee in being successful.)
  • Limit the number of goals (5-7) and be specific to increase the likelihood they will be accomplished.
  • Ask the employee to sign the review and provide them with a copy. (Their signature does not mean they agree with the review, only that they have received it. Should they choose not to sign it, make a notation to that fact, then sign and date it yourself.)
  • Place the original review in the employee's personnel folder.

The review doesn't stop once the formal process is complete!

Ongoing, consistent informal feedback is critical to support employees and in changing their behaviors. Don't wait until the next formal review to tell them what's going well and what needs to change. Catching people in the act of doing things "right" and telling them so, reinforces desired behaviors and attitudes. If an employee exhibits negative behavior or makes a mistake, discuss it when it happens. Nothing changes behavior faster than letting someone know, in a positive way, what needs to change at the time it happens or very shortly thereafter. Positive feedback is descriptive, specific, directed at changeable behaviors (not at personal traits), timely and understood.

When providing informal feedback, you should:

  • Speak directly to the person.
  • Provide details and specifics.
  • State how you feel and why.
  • Explain what they did well and why it was effective.
  • Explain what they did ineffectively, what they could have done and why this behavior would be more effective.

When was the last time you conducted formal performance reviews with your employees? How often do you catch them in the act of doing the "right" things and telling them?

Next Month:
We'll explore the fourth secret - Develop them!

Don't have a formal performance review process?
Want coaching to conduct positive reviews?
We can help. 

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