Performance reviews suck for so many reasons. Entrepreneurs avoid them, because there are way too many other things to do. Managers rarely do them right, and if they do, they don’t prepare properly. Employees hate them because they usually are tied to negative things and money. They usually happen only once a year … if they happen.
Yet, if performed correctly, they are one of the most powerful things a company can do. I speak from experience, having won “Best Places to Work” awards more than 20 times at companies I have founded or coached.
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Rather than a typical review, what’s really needed is a formal Alignment Meeting. The overarching purpose is for the manager and employee to walk away with complete clarity and actions that drive the job role: the accountabilities, the goal numbers, etc. Reviewing all the company’s Core Values is a powerful method to make sure the employee is doing the work the right way from a behavioral perspective. For example, do you have a sales superstar who drives your customer service team to tears? This is a great way to address the issue in a collaborative and non-threatening way.
Also missing from most reviews is spending some time discussing the Core Processes and Activities that drive the job function – the ones that have the most impact. Ask what is the most important thing to do and is it on the calendar weekly as a priority item? What processes support the core activities? And what things create busyness but do not really drive results? Simple process with powerful outcomes.
Here are 8 tips to pull off a powerful Alignment Meeting:
- Be prepared. Treat this as the number one thing you’ll do as a manager. This is your A-Race. Set an example of preparedness. This is how your employees will do their Alignment Meetings with their employees down the line.
- Create a great experience with your employee. This is not a beat-down session. It’s about getting alignment around what is important and agreement on what can be worked on in the next 90 days.
- Use the word Together. Work on action plans Together. You’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll walk away from leading an Alignment Meeting with stuff to work on and improve on as well.
- Create a safe environment for candor. Not making this a review tied to money is the trick to this.
- Tell them why this is important. I’ll say something like, “I care about you and your health and happiness, I care about our relationship and our willingness to work Together, and I care about doing the right things to move our company forward. This conversation is about these three things.”
- Pick 2-3 things to work on each 90 days. Look for themes or “red threads” throughout the conversation. Don’t nitpick each line item. Ask what can we work on that would drive the most improvement … create the biggest impact?
- Be vulnerable as the manager. This will help you get to the real issues your employee is dealing with at work. You can’t help fix what you don’t know about. Put your ego aside.
- Have fun! You both should walk out totally energized! Don’t be surprised if you get an unexpected hug, handshake or even some happy tears.
Never do another review. Stop, please!!! Instead, start Alignment Meetings now!