How to deliver an effective performance review as a leader


Hi, Claire here, CEO of Know Your Team, where we give you the training and tools, really everything you need to be the best manager possible. today I'm back with another manager tip on something that I think many of us as leaders are facing this season, which is performance reviews.

I want to talk specifically about the two things that I think most leaders actually overlook when we're delivering performance reviews. And whether or not you're actually doing formal performance reviews in your organization, maybe you call them by another name, annual review something else, but whatever it might be, it's likely that you're doing at least some kind of one-on-one check-in or conversation around performance with your team members. So hopefully this is still relevant to you. So excited to share these two tips.

The two things that most leaders actually overlook when it comes to delivering performance reviews well is first and foremost, is that we forget to talk about actually why they matter. Now, sometimes I think for us as leaders, it can be hard to talk about why performance reviews matters because we lose sight of why they're important in the first place. I know I do.

We have to remember that the purpose is really to create space to enable this direct report, this person, to do their best work. It's space to really improve and help the person improve. That's the goal.

So making it extraordinarily clear that that's what success is from this performance review conversation, actually having space to talk about what things can be better is really where you wanna start. Then the second thing that you're going to want to do when it comes to performance reviews, and the thing I think many of us as leaders, unfortunately, well, you know, don't really enjoy doing, and I don't blame you, which is talking about the hard stuff.

And that's actually, first, to really level what the fact that all of us as humans can improve. And so there's really no judgment or value assessment that's being made here, that it's really just being about improving. The second thing then you're gonna wanna do is to be as direct as possible about the exact observable behaviors that you would like to see different for this person. It really doesn't help the other person to sugarcoat it, to say, "Oh, well it would be nice if, you know, this could change." But actually being really descriptive and specific about the observable behaviors what you'd like to see different, and then the impact that that actually has.

Let me give you an example of how to do this. So perhaps you would start off by saying, "I wanna talk about areas improvement. And to be clear, all of us have areas and things that we can all improve. So given that, specifically, there's one thing that I noticed in particular that I think would be an area to improve. It is..." And again, you could fill in the blank here. "I noticed that..." And then talk about the observable behaviors. So those are the main ways in which you're going to want to talk about really trying to improve. And then the last thing there to end would be to ask the person, "Hey, well what do you think?" Right? Because you don't want this just to be a one-way conversation.

Performance review is not just handing someone a decree of what is, but it's really trying to involve the other person so they feel like they have a stake so they can actually do something better. Because again, that's the whole purpose of a performance review. It's to really enable space for this person to actually know what they can be doing better and to have a conversation about that. So if you can focus on those two pieces, making it super clear what the real purpose is, that often gets lost admits to all the noise with performance reviews. And then making sure that when you're talking about the things to improve, that you make it clear that everyone can improve and that you're very direct about the observable behaviors for the things they can change. And then asking a question to really involve them in that process.

When you do these things, it really helps to create a foundation for your performance review to feel less cringey, less burdensome, and hopefully give you the outcomes that you're truly looking for.

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