Does your performance review process motivate your team members

By November 19, 2014 May 1st, 2020 No Comments

Does your performance review process motivate your team members?
Having interviewed hundreds of team members in professional service firms, we know the answer is absolutely not!!!!

So we asked them “Why not?”

What do you think they would have said to us?

Here’s a sample of the type of responses we got:

“It only happens once a year and is very general in terms of my specific skills and job related performance.”
“There is no follow up on actions discussed in the performance review interview so why bother?”
“We fill in the same questions each year… no one really asks us about our goals and aspirations.”
“It just smacks of office politics and who gets on with the directors.”
“We get talked at and told where we need to pull up our socks.”

Then directors and HR managers complain of the time it takes to do these interviews and how “staff” (not team members) don’t seem to be interested.

Mmmmmm… why do it this way if this is the response?

Dr Tim Baker from Brisbane has done his doctoral research on this very topic and published an interesting couple of books on the topic.

Go to and purchase them if you’re interested in understanding this challenge in more depth.

“The end of the performance review… a new approach to appraising employee performance” and, “The 8 values of highly productive companies… creating wealth from a new employment relationship”.

Tim’s work backs up what we have discovered in interviewing team members in firms over the last 20 years.

So what does work?

Firstly, undertake an annual or 6 monthly salary survey and be aware of market place salaries and do your salary negotiations as a separate exercise from your career development discussions.

Of course an employee’s performance will be considered in deciding what to pay them… or to accept their request for a certain level of pay.

You’ll look at objective factors like fees managed, chargeable %’s, job profitability etc.

And you’ll use your “gut feel” to assess subjective inter personal and attitudinal factors.

Secondly, regard performance management and career development as an ongoing conversation between a team member and their “coach/mentor”.

– They want feedback on jobs they do as they do them.
– They want guidance on how to manage client expectations and requests, positive and negative.
– They want help with managing direct reports if they have them.

We see two elements to this mentoring.

– Daily input is needed by individuals on the work they are asked to do. Managers need to make time to do this positively and teach as they go.
– Team members really crave this guidance and support and skill development.

Then a “helicopter perspective” is required.

This is where Dr Tim Baker has some useful templates for monthly 15 minute chats in his book.

– Month 1 is about how you feel about working here…the vibes in the place and why you see it in that way.  Whether you’re comfortable or not and why.  Getting to know you.
– Month 2 is about your strengths and talents. A checklist of firm skills can assist this conversation.
– Month 3 is about opportunities for personal growth and how you can assist this person.
– Month 4 is about specific learning from jobs allocated and whether formal training is required, be it external or internet self-study based.
– Month 5 is about how can we improve what we do here? Processes or systems or meetings content or report content.
– Month 6 is an overview of how we’ve gone working together on all this?

In other words, team members crave career advancement and skills development.

And specific timely job related feedback, both positive and negative.

Attack the issues, not the person.

With feedback, communicate what you’ve observed, ask about consequences as the team member sees it, then ask for agreed actions or behaviours.

We cover all of this in some detail in our “Profitable Business Management Workshop for Design Professionals” scheduled for Brisbane, March 25/26, 2015.

Become a motivator of your team, not a nit picking diminisher. They’ll respect you for it and give their best.

Andrew Geddes.

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