If This Is How You Handle Employee Performance, You May Be Doing it Wrong

The Employee Performance Problem

Ask any well-meaning manager what an employee performance appraisal should accomplish, and you’ll usually hear answers along the lines of: “to categorize the organization, improve employee performance and boost motivation.”

While these are all critical aims for an organization if the answer to how they currently accomplish this is through an annual performance review—then there are problems with the system. Namely, those annual performance appraisals generally only serve one of the three purposes listed above—and it isn’t performance or motivation.

So, How Did We Get Here?

The long and short of employee performance reviews is that they are derived from military practice, were never designed to foster improvement, and have long been used as a tool to cull an organization of their bottom performers. According to the Harvard Business Review, they also serve to punish past behaviour at the expense of achieving the desired future performance that is critical for organizational survival.

So, the question begs: If employees hate them, managers don’t see their value and an organization isn’t benefiting from them—why not ditch them all together?

The Elimination Problem

Well, while I was going to title this post “The Stone Age Called and They Want Their Appraisal Back,” that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, as ditching the yearly recap isn’t always the best solution either. So many initiatives are tied to it, including, planning and compensation. However, the employment landscape over the last few decades has made it clear that the conversation needs to shift away from the metrical to the malleable.

Anyone familiar with the psychological principle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs knows that motivation comes in various levels: from the basic (like food, shelter, and wages), to psychological (belonging, achievement, respect of others, etc.) and finally to self-actualization (morality, problem-solving, creativity, etc.)

Although this theory has its critics, the basic premise is that human beings are striving for self-worth and acknowledgment—and if you aren’t creating an environment where this (and the resulting performance growth) can occur—your employees are going to look to another organization to fill those needs.

The take-home is it’s no longer realistic to rank an employee with performance metrics once per year, give them either a raise or a performance improvement plan, and expect that the basic needs you do satisfy (like a regular paycheque) will be enough to sustain them and motivate them to perform to a level that will grow your organization.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

It’s no secret that supported, engaged employees do better—and when they do better, you do better. The goal of employee performance is to elicit behaviour that supports the organization’s bottom line while fulfilling some of those psychological needs your employees crave—and giving them the tools to do it effectively. There are several ways to get this done—and yes, you can keep your year-end appraisal—if you focus on its value as a recap of the year. A good rule of thumb is that there should never be anything in a performance appraisal that is a surprise for the employee. Other strategies could include:

  • Linking goals to key company objectives like the mission/vision (they “why you exist” stuff)
  • Tying goal achievement to collaboration and communication (not every task needs to be a group project, but increased collaboration and information sharing leads to increases across the board)
  • Training managers to check in consistently (this allows for accurate course corrections throughout the year while retaining employee autonomy. The key here is manager training)
  • Allowing the employee access to the tools, resources, and training to allow them to successfully fill any knowledge gaps they have.

Of course amended performance measures won’t solve all team issues (for an idea of what other issues employers regularly encounter and how to fix them, read this page) but it’s a good support system for overall team engagement. And of course, we’re more than happy to help with any issues you do have  in finding the system that’s right for your business.

 

How about you? How do you facilitate the employee performance process, and what challenges have you encountered along the way? What do you find helpful? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Creating Your Perfect Week

It’s one thing to create a 90-day plan (yes we’ve got a video on that) but translating that into an ideal week needs to be intentional.

 

How To Make Pressure Work For You

There is a balance point where pressure changes from positive to negative and there is also a point where pressure becomes ineffective.

Knowing what these points are for you and your sales team in critical in achieving sustained levels of high performance.

 

Business Lessons From Mountain Biking #2 – What is your Sales speed?

The speed at which you approach situations matters. The speed at which you manage others matters.

In this short video, Business Coach Jamie Cunningham shares some mountain biking analogies and shows how your sales speed can affect your outcomes.

 

All About Brain Dump…And Why You Need it in Your Day

I define a successful day as one where I get a lot of stuff done, I don’t feel overwhelmed by it, and I have fun doing it. Simple in theory, very difficult in execution, right?

There is a great way I start my day which helps me clear my head and begin the day with a concrete idea of where I’m going. I’m talking about Brain Dump.

What is brain dump? Well, it’s simply this. Taking 5-10 minutes every morning (wherever is convenient for you) and writing down everything that’s in your head. Get it all out on paper and then have a good look at it. If you look at the list and aren’t overcome with a tightening in your chest, then this list is a good indicator of your to-do list for the day. If you get it all out and panic sets in, then this enables you to see things in a concrete way and allows you to break down your items one-by-one so you can decide which items can be put off, passed on or delegated to achieve success.

Try it for a week. You won’t be disappointed. And – if you need some help with planning in the long-term – check out our free 90-Day Planning tool to help get you started. Make it a great day 🙂

Business Lessons From the Bike Trail #1 – Knowing Where to Focus

There’s a basic object to enjoying a safe ride on a mountain bike: Look where your going.

While the same can be said for business, it’s amazing how many people focus on the obstacles in front of them instead of focusing on the track, but when you fixate on the obstacles which are in your way – they tend to magnify – which makes your changes of hitting one fairly high.

The same goes for them you start riding faster on the trail. The faster you go (ie: the more you grow) the further down the track you need to look. Just don’t look so far down the track that you get blindsided from something you didn’t see just up ahead.

Have a think about your business. How far down the track are you looking? What obstacles do you face that you could find the answer to if you just ventured to look a little beyond them? Are you getting blindsided by other things that are stopping you from making progress?

The Secret to Managing Attitudes at Work

The number one stressors in business are (and may always be) money, and people. In fact, you likely know first hand how much emotional energy and loss of team synergy is wasted on a member of your team that just doesn’t fit the bill.

It turns out – the key to managing attitudes in the workplace is as simple as communication and follow-up. Sounds easy, right? Well it can be more difficult that you expect to implement, but once the expectations are set, it can become remarkably easy to keep momentum in your team.

The tools we need start with creating our core value and culture. You see, if expectations for every member of your organization aren’t clear, and we don’t hold people accountable, you will always have an organizational culture that is driven by the quality of people within it.

A good starting point is to check out “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business“, by Patrick Lencioni it is a fantastic read about the concrete advantage that can be gained by having a healthy organization.

 

The Reality of Open Book Management

Truthfully, this is just one reality .. but a good one at that 🙂

Norm Jefferies of Computer Merchants has been running his company for over 20 yrs and I think it’s fair to say, he’s doing a damn fine job at it.

Norm and his team adopted the philosophy of Open  Book Management (OBM) at an early stage and it has become a key part of their culture.

In this interview, Norm shares how they implemented OBM and what the benefits and challenges have been of sharing the numbers within the team. We dive into the specific of day-to-day tactics, how OBM affects performance and how they make it a living and effective tool to align the team.

If you are thinking of implementing Open Book Management or are on the other side and think it’s crazy, either way you’ll get some direct benefit of learning from Norm’s experience.

Enjoy!


 

Links from the interview:

Computer Merchants website – http://www.computermerchants.com.au/

Norm on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/normjefferies

The Great Game of Business – http://greatgame.com/

Ownership thinking – http://www.ownershipthinking.com/

What’s Your Daily Number?

What if you had a friend who was trying to lose weight, but they never stepped on a scale and didn’t know their weight when they started? I’m sure, being a good friend you would suggest they find our their true weight, so they could track their changes and get a sense for if they were heading towards their goal.

Now take that same principle but apply it to your business. Whether it be sales, marketing ROI, or employee turnover, knowing where you stand is a huge part of success, and knowing if you are (or will) meet your goals. Having those metrics in hand will also help you determine the time it will or has taken you to reach your goal and provide a critical baseline for further attempts to improve your numbers.

The truth is this – if you don’t keep track of your numbers, you will always think your track record is better than it actually is, because our brains can sometimes confuse intention with action. Numbers don’t lie. Creating a hard goal will allow you to be objective in its achievement and is easy to measure. This number should be shared in your daily, yes daily, meeting with staff so everyone knows where you stand. Why daily? Well, if you measure the important goals quarterly, or even annually, you deprive yourself of critical moments to adjust your course which could mean the difference of a goal exceeded and one which has fallen short.

A Better Alternative to New Years Resolutions

Most people acknowledge that New Year’s resolutions rarely work, so why do we keep making them? Is it a moment of drunken utopia that makes us believe that this year is going to be different?
The truth is, Jan 1st is just another day in the calendar. There is nothing magical about it. I know that sounds a bit deflating. Sure, it comes with the perception that you get a clean slate (and I’m all for taking advantage of that) but that is it. So why do we think a ‘resolution’ is going to work on Jan 1st vs. any other date on the calendar?
The reason most resolutions don’t work is because there is no emotional substance behind them. The plan to go to the gym and workout 4 times a week takes some serious dedication. Most people won’t do it because it requires a massive change in habits and the payoff is not entirely clear. The gym resolution is based more out of pain and fear (“I look like crap in front of a mirror”) vs passion and excitement.
My goal here is to give you a more concrete strategy to make your business and your life better
There are three things that must exist for a plan to be well executed. They are:
  1. Emotional leverage.
  2. Tools and skills.
  3. Visibility / Accountability.
(note: I’m now talking about plans and not resolutions. And the first ingredient to make a plan work is to actually have a plan ????. I’m not going to be talking about how to create your plan here. For more on that topic read my post creating 90-day plans or the importance of planning)
Emotional Leverage – is the ‘why’ behind your plan.
Why do you want it?
What is it going to do for you?
How important is that to you?
Your answers to these questions must add up and offset the level of difficulty in sticking to your plan. In other words if you are not really clear on the payoff, you are likely to quit or fall off the plan as you come up against obstacles. If the pain of not achieving your goal is less than the pleasure from hitting your goal … you’ll quit every time.
The way I do this, is I get my wife and kids involved in setting our family goals. Then together we work to build our vision board (a board with pictures representing the things we want to ‘be’, ‘do’ and ‘have’). These are both individual and family based. One of the ‘have’ items on our vision board right now is a pool in our backyard. And every other night or so, as we are putting the kids to bed, we role play how it would be to have the pool, like it is already there. During this process we get a feeling that builds within us. It’s an excitement and it give me fuel during the day when I’m going about executing my plan. Believe me, having your kids asking daily “how’s the pool coming along Dad?” is potent fuel for action.
Does it work. Hell yes. I’m using it right now. For me, writing like I’m doing here, is one of those tasks that will easily fall on the procrastination pile. So to make it happen I think of my kids playing in the pool. It makes me move!
Tools and skills – when you are awesome at something, it is much more fun to do. Simply because it is easy. So to make executing on your plan easier, get better at the things on your plan. The more you invest in your own education and betterment, the easier life becomes. The question to answer is – “what 2 or 3 skills are going to be critical to this plan succeeding”. Then develop some methods for improving (reading books, practice, attending a course etc). Just think, if you invested in improving 1 or 2 skills every 90-days, how much could you improve over the course of a year? What about 5yrs? Oh yeh … this is where the gold really lies.
Visibility and Accountability – Even if you have strong emotional leverage and you have all the tools and skills you need to be successful, sometimes we just don’t make the best choices with our time. (i.e. we get distracted – it happened to me yesterday as I passed too close to a bike shop and I got sucked right in ???? ) and caught up in things that are not key to our progress.
My suggestion for you here is have your goals and key activities clearly posted where you can see them. I use my 90-day plan format and have it posted on my wall in my office. Our family vision board is where we eat every meal. It is all front and centre so it’s very hard to forget. I also take tasks from my 90-day plan and have them posted right in my calendar so I know exactly what I’m supposed to be working on and when. My last tool is one I call ‘The Sales Game’ and it is a points system based on certain activities I know need to be done to grow my business. It sits on my desk and is very obvious. It serves as a constant reminder as of what I should be working on.
Having someone you are accountable to also helps. You really should have others involved in your plan anyway so it becomes easy for others to see what should be getting done. I’m not a big fan of people checking in on me (I know when I’m behind, having people ask me just pisses me off). What works for me is making commitments to people. I really feel bad when I don’t keep my commitments. Know what form of accountability works for you and use it to your advantage. Want an app solution? Check out www.coachme.com
Some things to remember before you run off – executing on an idea is way harder than coming up with the idea. Sticking with a plan is way more important than having the perfect plan. Use these tools and strategies to truly make this your best year. I’d love to hear your success stories. Email me [email protected]