Dreaded Performance Reviews – A New Approach Based on Common Sense

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According to Marcus Buckingham, author of First Break All the Rules, and a more recent White Paper called “Next-Generation Performance Management,” here’s how great managers manage:

“They define very clearly the outcomes they want, and then get to know a person in as much detail as possible to discover the best way to help this person achieve the outcomes.” Buckingham also emphasizes, “Whether you call this an individualized approach, a strengths-based approach or just common sense, it’s what great managers do.”

Many mid-size companies (100 employees or so) struggle to devise an effective performance management system. As quarterly and annual reviews approach, there’s trepidation for both the employee and the manager. The manager struggles with how to set a positive tone for this meeting and how to encourage/incentivize employee improvement. The employee’s trepidation is generally the fear of the unknown – what will come up about their performance that they hadn’t heard about?

Buckingham encourages us to approach this process using… common sense. 

Too often we’re rating individuals on subjective criteria they haven’t even bought into. As Susan Scott says in her book Fierce Conversations, “Face it, the formal language of feedback is uninspiring and demotivating. Does ‘satisfactory’ capture anything anyone would feel good about?”

Here’s what common sense looks like in managing the growth of your employees: Move away from infrequent performance meetings to real-time conversations about what’s working and what isn’t working.

Common sense means shifting away from a “for the company” discussion to a “for me and about me” focus. It calls for transitioning from reactive feedback to forward-thinking coaching. 

In spite of its name, common sense-based management is an exciting approach. It’s a breath of fresh air. It places the responsibility of employee performance with the employee. It breaks down barriers, starts conversations, and ultimately creates an ongoing dialogue between a manager and an employee.  

And it improves performance. That’s what I call common sense!

Need help with this topic or leadership coaching? Contact Mission Critical Teams.