Tag Archives: Performance Management

Employee Performance: Manage and Prosper

A performance discussion for those who manage others

I have been thinking a lot about performance management lately-namely, how can managers get it done faster, better, and more effectively? I run into complaints about all areas of performance feedback: how to do it, what to say, how to have time for it, etc.

I get them so often that I’ve put together a quick discussion you can have with your managers to help them do it well. The best part? There is no “I don’t have time for this” excuse, because the lesson takes less than a minute to deliver. Here we go:

30 Second Public Service Message for Managers

Performance feedback is critically important for your people to do their jobs well. It needs to be all these:

  • On time
  • Honest
  • Accurate

Keep The Golden Rule in mind. Address their performance (good or bad) like you would want your own to be addressed.

Bonus tip: if you think there may be a surprise for the employee, call me.

And that, my friends, is the 30 second lesson on performance!

Want more? Check out the free employee performance management guide!

Job Feedback-You’re Doing it Wrong

I heard a new term to describe poor job feedback recently at the SHRM 2012 Conference, and I just had to share it here.

gunnysack feedback  [guhn-ee-sak feed-bak] noun
the act of saving all of an employee’s feedback over time and delivering it all at one time during an annual performance review; see also terrible management practices and how to increase employee turnover

how to give feedback at workThis is a really bad idea for several reasons.

  • First, you are not supplying the person with positive encouragement when they accomplish something noteworthy. How will they know what they are doing right?
  • Second, you are not correcting improper behaviors right away. Do you seriously think the employee really wants to do the wrong thing for an extended period of time before you get up the nerve to tell them?

In short, it violates the biggest rule with regard to comments for performance reviews: treat the other person like you want to be treated. Stuck and not sure how to proceed? Here’s a crazy idea–ask them what they want! Let’s add gunnysack job feedback to the list of failed management ideas (like using Twitter for reviews).

Anyone witnessed a manager clinging to the belief that this type of performance management is a good one?

How to Develop Managers-Get Them Involved

Get them involvedIn my first post on how to develop managers, I talked about uncovering manager development opportunities. Today we’ll talk about how to structure your organization so the managers want to get involved with their own development.

Hire right

It starts with the hire. If you hire someone who is comfortable with what they can already do and isn’t interested in doing anything more, then you’re probably going to have difficulty working with them. One of my favorite songs uses this lyric, and I repeat it to myself often when things start to get a little out of my comfort zone:

Somewhere in the grand design, it’s good to be unsatisfied. It keeps the faith and hope a little more alive.

There’s nothing wrong with finding someone who is not satisfied with where they are currently Continue reading

Managing retention on the front lines

I’m a firm believer in managers and their role as an intermediary between the business and its staff. I have seen that relationship play out with both positive and negative results, but there’s no disputing the relationship between good managers and good employees.

On a related note, I did a video a while back on the proper care and feeding of employees. It notes the (amazing) statistic that providing fair/accurate feedback to employees has a 39% impact on their performance. Wow!

In a recent post on retention management, I talked about 11 ways managers can influence their company’s retention rate. I’d love for you to check it out, leave a comment, and share your own thoughts on how managers can help (or hurt!) the retention of great employees.

New Supervisor Training

training for supervisorsI attended a new supervisor training session a few years ago, and it left me with some strong feelings about how to run a supervisor training program. I think the way it’s traditionally been done is a poor method for teaching managers what they need to know, but I haven’t decided on the right combination of teaching tools/methods that would be most effective. The one thing I know for sure is that it needs to change.

I ran across this site recently and had to laugh. It is a common theme that I’ll get a call because I’m the “computer guy” in the family. With Teach Parents Tech you have the option of sending video links directly to those who need assistance. That allows you to indirectly teach your parents/grandparents/in laws/whoever how to do computer tasks from simple (changing your computer’s clock) to advanced (changing your email address).

Why can’t we do that?

Then I started thinking about other applications. What if you could do the same for your supervisors? What if there was a neat way like this to teach them the basic principles of good management? Would you use the tool?

For instance, a new supervisor runs into a situation (giving feedback on poor performance, motivating employees in a slump, giving a presentation to senior management, etc.). They don’t have someone available to ask for help, so they pop onto the web and find the video that corresponds with that particular situation.

No, it’s not a perfect substitute for an in-person chat with someone who already knows how to do the task, but it’s better than going into the situation blind-folded. Just a little bit of preparation could go a long way in most instances.

A few situations I think would be neat to cover:

  • How to give accurate, honest feedback
  • Why documentation is essential
  • The wide world of terminations
  • Harassment, discrimination, and lawsuits, o my!
  • Safety and security in the workplace
  • How to train someone
  • Coaching and mentoring your staff
  • Building and managing teams
  • Developing and pursuing a vision
  • And tons more!

What do you think? Are there other scenarios that you think they run into on a daily basis that they could use some new supervisor training on?

It is what it is? Not on my watch

It is what it is.

I’ve come to hate that phrase with a passion. One of our managers, whenever faced with a particularly significant challenge, will respond with that saying. I’ve decided that the next time this manager says, “It is what it is,” I’m  going to respond with, “Because we let it be.”

It’s time to stop letting things get by because they require a modicum of effort to solve. It’s time to start thinking in terms of what you can do about the problem.

One of the interview questions I’ve taken to asking is “How lucky do you think you are on a scale of one to ten?” There has been research done on this topic, and when people believe they are lucky, they end up finding more opportunities and generally seeming to be more lucky because of their openness to challenges. People that believe they are unlucky are like this manager, and they feel like things happen to them without any control over it.

Do you know someone who uses one of those “catch all” phrases as an excuse?  Will you challenge them in a similar way to look within for an answer instead of throwing up their hands in defeat? 

7 Steps to a Successful Performance Appraisal

The old adage tends to be true: you get out of things what you put into them. This advice applies well to employee performance appraisals. Managers and employees tend to complain about them and their value, but sometimes, putting in a little bit of effort means you’ll get better results.

You may think you\’re a “superhero” employee and as such, can coast through your next performance appraisal. After all, you\’ve met all your goals, perhaps even exceeded them, so what do you need to prepare? A lot in fact.

Think you're awesome? Prove it.

It\’s not just the responsibility of your manager to prepare for your performance appraisal meeting. You play a role in ensuring the meeting is productive and that you and your manager have a detailed discussion of your accomplishment and future career goals.

With that point in mind, here’s a list of suggestions we put together to help employees prepare for their next performance appraisal, so they get more out of it.

1. Gather Information on Your Performance and Development

Start by getting out your job description if you have one, and your last performance appraisal. Review your job responsibilities and the goals, competencies and development plans set out for you. Then gather any regular reports or notes on your performance that you’ve been keeping (e.g. weekly status reports, monthly summaries, project status reports). Next, get any letters, emails, certificates of recognition, awards, etc. that you’ve received praising your work. Finally, pull out any certificates of completion from any courses you’ve taken.
Review all these items in preparation for step 2.

2. Prepare a List of Your Accomplishments

Using your job description, goals and competencies for guidance, prepare a list of your accomplishments over the last period. Make sure you cover the whole period, not just the most recent weeks or months. Relate your accomplishments to your goals and to higher level organizational goals – how did you achieve your goals and help the company achieve its goals. Make sure you capture “how” and not just “what” you accomplished.

Also include any challenges that limited your abilities to succeed, as well as any support you received from others.

Your goal is to give your manager a summary of your accomplishments and any background information they need to understand and evaluate your performance.

3. Complete a Self-Evaluation

Even if your company doesn’t formally do them, it’s good idea to complete a self-evaluation. Use the official performance appraisal form if you can, and rate your performance on competencies and goals. Be honest in your ratings, and provide specific examples of your work to backup your ratings.

The goal is to reflect on your performance, so you can share your perceptions with your manager.

4. Prepare a Development Plan

Using the work you did in steps 1 through 3, identify any areas for development. Identify areas where you struggled or where others noted your performance lacked and make note of these. Reflect on areas where you would like to expand your skills/experience/expertise as part of your career growth and progression. And think about your learning style and how you best learn.

Then, do a bit of research into the training/development offered through your organization, professional associations, industry associations, etc, and make a list of potential learning activities that would help you improve your performance and advance your career. Don\’t forget to include things like reading lists, volunteer activities, work assignments, etc. Learning isn’t always done in a classroom.

5. Draft Goals for the Coming Period

Take a proactive approach and draft some possible goals based on your job description, your department or the organization’s higher level goals, your skills/experience/abilities, etc. Look for opportunities to expand your duties, broaden your knowledge, or take on more responsibility.

6. Share Your Preparations With Your Manager

Now, share your list of accomplishments, your awards/thank yous/certificates, your self-evaluation, your ideas for development and your draft goals with your manager. This will help them prepare for your meeting more effectively and will encourage a better dialogue between you.

7. Prepare an Open Mind

Finally, it’s important for you to prepare an open mind. Often we come to our performance appraisal meeting feeling a bit defensive. We’re bracing ourselves to hear criticism, or we’re jockeying for ratings/positioning that impact our compensation and advancement in the company.

Unfortunately, when we’re defensive, we don’t listen very well. Prepare yourself by trying to relax and let go of any defensiveness you’re aware of. Your goal should be to listen deeply to the feedback your manager provides you, as well as to their perspective on the goals and development plans they assign you.


It’s your performance appraisal, and your career! By putting some time and effort into preparing for your performance appraisal, you set yourself up for a successful review, and open up a meaningful two-way dialogue with your manager about your performance.

About the author: Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of performance management software. For more of his insights on talent management, read his posts on the Halogen Software blog.