If you’re a line manager you will probably already have some sort of regular review system in place to help you manage your team, but are you getting the most of it?
What are performance reviews?
Performance reviews are a very useful tool that will help you manage your team effectively and get the best from them. There are many benefits to holding regular, structured 121s with your team including:
- Regular check on levels of performance
- Identify areas for growth and improvement
- Opportunity to address and areas of training needed
- Opportunity to praise and reward
- Ensures full and fair accountability
- Inform suitable development plans
If you’d like to start or improve on your performance review meetings here are our top tips:
Planning Review Meetings
- Ensure employees have a firm date and time in the diary and you stick to it (ideally book this well in advance)
- Provide employees with an agenda for the meeting a few days in advance
- Ask them to prepare for the meeting reporting back to you on their own performance against their KPIs, also providing feedback on key questions (see topics to cover below).
- Ask them to send their preparation notes to you in writing at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting.
- Ensure the review is carried out in a private environment where you will not be interrupted
How Often and How Long
- Once a month is ideal for a formal 121 meeting (you will probably also have at least weekly less formal 121s)
- Review meetings will vary in length but typically 1 to 2 hours – uninterrupted.
Topics to cover
- Review of performance against KPIs
- Any particular areas the employee would like to cover in the meeting
- How well the employee has performed and what has been achieved since the last meeting
- How any achievements relate to their targets
- Anything they have found difficult
- Factors that have helped or hindered performance
- What they have done to try and overcome any difficulties
- What practical support, learning or development will help the employee
- How the employee’s current role and longer career may be developed
- Objectives for the next review and how they may be achieved
After a Review Meeting
- Write up the notes of the meeting and provide the employee with a copy (keeping one for yourself). Bring this to the next review meeting
- Ensure all required actions (by you and the employee) are activated on a ‘to do list’ or diary.
Skills & Tips for Conducting Performance Reviews
- Asking good questions: use both open and closed questions to encourage people to expand on their experiences, views or feelings
- Focus attention on what is working well. Explore what happened, what the high point was and how they felt at the time
- Discover their personal success code – what did they do to make the success happen? What did other people do and what enabled it?
- Active listening – take in both what is being said and their body language
- Constructive feedback – focus on evidence and actual examples, not subjective opinions. It is important to reinforce positives and strengths.
When can it all go wrong?
- If reviews aren’t frequent or consistent enough (once a month is recommended)
- They focus on past performance with little attention paid to future performance, learning and development
- Assessments are too subjective
- Actions are not followed up
- Feedback has only come from one source, not accounting for peers, customers or the actual individual.
If you follow a regular performance review process with your team you will quickly begin to reap the rewards. You’ll have a clear idea of what your team are achieving and where they need help. Reviews are also a great way to motivate and reward people as they feel accountable and valued.
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