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Compare performance reviews to a dealership’s scoreboard.

Raise your hand if you’re a manager and you hate doing performance reviews. You’re not alone. But they are necessary and important for your business. You can change the process and do reviews in a way that makes everyone look forward to them.

In this month’s edition of Service Drive Magazine, Brenda Stang compares performance reviews to a dealership’s scoreboard. Your team needs to have standards to measure themselves against, goals to aim for, and a time frame to complete it in. With this, you risk having low morale and high confusion.

Common concerns with review processes is that there is too large of a time gap between reviews and the lack of clarity on standards and goals. Another concern is working relationships- if you only meet with your employee once or twice a year, you won’t know them well enough to know what motivates them and how to bring out their best performance.

Commit today to doing more reviews. Ask yourself these questions- how frequently do I want my reviews to be? What do we want to talk about? And how is the relationship building between me and my employee? Here’s the bottom line- keep it simple and make it something that everyone looks forward to and benefits from.

Establishing Simple Review Processes Improve Morale and Productivity

By: Brenda Stang

Have you managed to get through this winter without catching a cold? Well the good news for all of you cold sufferers is there is a product called Buckley’s Mixture that stops coughs and sore throats for 6 hours. The bad news? Buckley’s slogan is “It tastes awful. And it works.” That’s right, it tastes so bad that people put off ta king it until they just can’t handle the coughing any longer. Then as the mixture kicks in and starts working they feel relief and they vow to not wait so long to take it again. Yet they continue to delay taking it because it just tastes so darn awful.

Buckley’s Mixture reminds me of performance reviews. Managers know that they are a good way to give feedback to their staff. But the process is so awful that managers put off doing reviews until they absolutely necessary. What would it look like if we could change the process and do reviews in a way that every management and staff member would look forward to it?

Why are Performance Reviews a Good Idea?

Have you ever played a ball game without keeping the score? It’s fun for a short period of time and then it gets boring. A baseball scoreboard keeps the players interested in the game. They always know what the score is, whether they are ahead or behind and they know how many innings are left.

Performance reviews are like the dealership’s scoreboard. People need to have standards to measure themselves against, goals to aim for and a time frame to complete it. Without a measurement tool in the workplace jobs can become boring too. Worse yet it can lead to confusion and low morale. People need to know the score.

Your staff wants to feel that they make a difference at work. When they started with you they got a fair amount of attention and training as they settled into the daily routine of the business. After they settle in they need feedback to keep improving. Performance reviews are a great communication tool to give feedback to employees and in turn to get to know them better. It’s a shame that the process to complete reviews is so awful and tedious that managers tend to avoid doing them.

What are the Top Review Concerns?

When a manager avoids and delays doing something that is proven to be effective in raising performance you look at the process. Bad processes suck the energy and drive out of businesses every day.
Three top concerns about the review process are:

    1. Too large of a time gap between reviews – All of a manager’s time and energy is committed to their daily, weekly and monthly routines. They get good very quickly and build on their skills through repetition of regular tasks. When it comes to an event that happens annually or semi-annually, managers look at the amount of time and energy required to do the work necessary for a traditional review and they delay or pass on it. They haven’t developed a proficiency in it and they don’t see a good return for time spent. Your department is moving and adapting so quickly. if your reviews are semi-annual or annual events then your feedback isn’t keeping up with the pace of the business.
    2. Lack of clarity on standards and goals – If you haven’t set out clear standards and goals for your staff to work to, it is difficult to give feedback. It’s like playing a game without knowing the rules. At some point you are going to disagree but the question is what are you disagreeing about? This lack of clarity just adds to the time and energy requirements when managers are preparing the reviews. This also leads to reviews that are based on feelings and perceptions. There are so many ways for a review to go off the rails in this process. No wonder so many managers put it off.
    3. Working relationships – If this is the only time that your staff have individual meetings with you, chances are you don’t know them well enough to know what motivates them and how to bring out their best performance. It is nearly impossible to build strong relationships when the reviews happen so infrequently.

The amazing thing about this process is that, in spite of the flaws of the meetings and participants, managers find that reviews open a line of communication with their staff that has a positive effect for a short period of time. Like the Buckley’s Mixture, the performance review brings relief to relationships. We can’t change the taste of the cough medicine but we certainly can change the process so that reviews can occur consistently with less energy expended by the managers.

Creating a positive practical Successful Review Process

Commit to doing reviews more frequently and you will be taking the single most important action in starting the change in your review process. Here are three questions that you should ask yourself before you start revamping your review process.

    1. How frequent should your reviews be? That depends on your style. Pick a frequency that you can commit to and follow through. The important thing is that you make it part of your routine by doing it and getting better at doing it. I have found that managers who keep their reviews short and to the point have them more frequently and they get great results with their staff.
    2. What should you talk about? You need to do the ground work in clearly stating the standards and performance goals of your department. Everybody needs to know what the department and dealership goals are so they can understand their role in achieving those goals. During the review you can talk about their progress to achieving their goals. What are they training on? Everyone should always be learning something. Focus them on talking about the one thing they have total control over. Themselves. This is very motivational because the spotlight is on them.
    3. How is this relationship building? Make this 30 minutes of uninterrupted time where you get to know your staff better. There is an old and wise saying, people don’t care until they know that you care. Your goal is to get them to talk about themselves. What makes them tick? What do they care about? What drives them? What are their personal goals? See them for who they are and respect it. Focus on listening and you will hear what motivates them. Take that and use it to channel their energy and activities.

Keep this as simple as possible and make it a meeting that everyone looks forward to and is productive.

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