Most millennials do about 70% of their learning on the job so it should come as no surprise that a traditional performance review isn’t nearly as effective as it once was. In fact, when done poorly, annual reviews can negatively affect performance.
To satisfy your team’s need for leadership development, a personal approach and one-on-one coaching are the most successful means of communication. Today, nearly 75% of organizations are rethinking their performance strategy and aligning it with strength-based coaching rather than informal reviews.
This type of ongoing mentorship does not come without its own set of challenges. Effective and frequent feedback involves more time, effort and focus for management. The following are a few means with which to practice coaching that counts while keeping an open dialogue with employees:
#1) Know Your Team Members
It is difficult to have an open and honest conversation with your team if you have no idea who they are individually as people. The best way to have someone relaxed enough that they feel open to honesty is to always start the meeting with a frank question of “How are you?” Then really, genuinely listen to the answer, even if it has nothing to do with their work.
Engaging the employee with sincere personal interest is invaluable because it eradicates the vulnerability that typically stands in the way of foundational trust. If a team member first and foremost understands you care about their well-being as an individual, their productivity typically increases two-fold. Who wouldn’t want to do a good job for a boss that genuinely seems to value their contribution and livelihood?
#2) Ask Don’t Tell
The most important aspect to one-on-one conversations is that they are a two-way street. If you notice a team members’ performance is slipping—rather than immediately presenting the issue, put the ball in their court with a question.
This can take the form of a question like “What is in your way and how can I help?” Asking how you can be of assistance immediately takes your employee off of the defense and moves them into problem-solving mode. It creates a platform where you are working together to solve an issue rather than leading with an accusatory tone. Plus, if you are actively practicing impactful coaching, these conversations should get easier as performance increases.
#3) Consistent Calibration
At this point in the conversation, it is important to be the boss. Many managers fail to give constructive employee feedback because they’re afraid of being the “bad guy,” but in doing so, they’re avoiding doing the most important part of their job.
Syncing on things like engagement and performance will ensure you are both on the same page about expectations. Use this time to let people know where you think they are in terms of goals and how to try and get there if anything is lacking.
#4) Key Performance Indicators
KPIs are important because they set a pre-agreed upon standard for measuring performance and success. Goals with specific metrics can help create a common understanding of expectations. Goals can raise engagement and focusing on them monthly can boost a company’s financial performance into the top 10% of their peer group.
If it is necessary, reset priorities so that your team member feels their time and work is valuable. Listen to any reasons why specific goals are not being met and offer assistance to alleviate the challenges. It is the job of management to help people align the greater business goals with their daily tasks and let them know when they excel or slip.
#5) Keep Coaching
The ultimate goal of one-on-one conversations is to give your team members the focus and personal attention they need to excel. Some people may need it more than others, but being a good coach is understanding how your individual team members function within the group, and ways in which to improve their performance.
Align input with the worker’s interests and strengths. Ask people what their big picture is and show them how you can help them get there. These are also great times to discuss the next skill set or goal and how it relates to their career path.
The idea is to keep the conversation going rather than creating anxiety around a rare or dramatic episode. Yearly performance reviews are not effective because they are too impersonal and often create anxiety around a conversation rather than stimulate honesty. If these people are truly part of a team, then everyone’s role is important. The more a coach is able to mentor on a regular basis and show each person their value, the better the team will perform overall.