For this week’s Lifelong Learning blog, Founder Ron Slee talks to us about performance reviews and leading teams – both in a classroom and in a business setting. He describes for us five things that prompt thoughtful conversations.
Many of you know that I am almost fanatical about providing great performance reviews with each and every employee I touch. Regularly. Not annually rather as the opportunity arises. But frequently to say the least. Then this came up as I was running through my time allocated to social media and my email and texts. That allotted time is my recognition of distractions that Nir Eyal pointed out to me that changed how I work. That recognition came from his excellent book “Indistractable.”
A post by Harvard Business School on LinkedIn brought to mind a few things I used to do, as a matter of common practice, when I was leading teams at dealerships or software companies.
I called them my “Five Things.” They went like this:
- Please list the “Five Things” that are the most significant items in each of the categories.
- Five Things to Improve Operations
- That are a pain for you to do
- To Make Your Job Better for you personally
It was an interesting exercise. Everyone on the team had a week to make their lists and we tried to ensure they didn’t work together on their lists. Then we got together as a team, at a break or after work and put them on a flip chart. We compared the lists. It was remarkable how there werem any items that were on all of the lists. As you can imagine my question was rather simple. If they make operations better AND they are a pain for you to do AND they will make your own job better THEN why haven’t we done them. Think about that for a moment.
I also regularly asked each member of the team three simple questions.
- My “Check Up from the Neck Up.”
- What do I do that you like, and you want me to continue doing?
- What do I do that you don’t like, and want me to stop doing?
- What do I do that doesn’t really matter to you or impact your job?
That gave me a very upfront and personal performance review by my team members.
Then this morning I find the following on LinkedIn from Harvard Business School.
“If you’re worried that your employees are eyeing the door, it’s time to start having some important, career-defining conversations. Here are five key questions to ask your direct reports at your next one-on-one to ensure that they feel seen and valued — before it’s too late.
- How would you like to grow within this organization? Identify the career development opportunities they need — whether that’s coaching, mentoring, increased visibility, or more challenging projects. They’re more likely to stay if they feel like they’re growing.
- Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job? Tap into what’s meaningful to them — and connect it with the values of the organization.
- What do you need from me to do your best work? Be prepared to devote more time and resources to help your employee feel fulfilled.
- What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should do? Asking what they feel the company could be doing better — what market opportunities it might be overlooking, how to leverage resources more effectively, etc. — conveys that their thoughts and opinions matter.
- Are you able to do your best work every day? This allows you to determine whether they’re optimizing their strengths. You might follow up with, “What part of your job would you eliminate if you could?” Don’t make promises but knowing which aspects of their job are least and most enjoyable will help you make any necessary changes to ensure they stick around.”
As many of you know I am quite critical about our skills in performing a performance review with your team members. Typically, no one has trained any of you on how to do a review. In many cases the review is what I call a “hygiene” review. Is the employee on time or late, are they absent a lot, are they dressed properly. Oh, and then some metrics. In many cases the individual employee does not have any control over the metrics so why are they in their performance review. It is almost that I have to check off another of the boxes on the things I should do.
Many of you know that we have Job Function Skills Assessments for most parts and service and product support selling jobs. Ninety-Six Multiple Choice questions. Your knowledge and skill level will be seriously evaluated with these assessments. This is about getting an objective measure of the “gaps” in the skills and knowledge that are present with an employee. The employee and their team leader sit down and talk about the assessment. With the score that the employee has achieved on the assessment we can provide a “Learning Skill Level.” The Skill Levels follow the education system categories: Developing, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. With each Skill Level we have eight class recommendations for the employee to continue to grow and develop their skills. We recommend that the team leader and the employee come to a joint decision on the classes that the employee should take to continue on their “career path.” This is a very different performance review. This is about treating each employee as an asset not an expense. They are people that we want to operate “aspirationally” (our word) not transactionally. We want employees that are engaged in their work.
For more in this direction please read David Jensen’s recent post on PTO.
The Time is Now.