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Managing for Year-Round Performance

Current wisdom in human relations management concurs that employee performance management is or should be a year round activity, not once a year or twice at most.

Below we’ve outlined a few strategies that you can put in place starting today that will allow you to properly monitor and evaluate the year round performance of your team members.

Regularly keep notes on your team member’s performance

Don’t shy away from keeping detailed notes throughout the year on individual performance. Unless you’ve kept detailed evaluations throughout the year, writing a performance review at the end of each year tends to skew the evaluations, for the detriment of yourself and the team member.

Be sure to jot down notes on milestones, accomplishments, successes and challenges as they occur when the details are fresh in your mind. If you note a drop in performance or a change in attitude, be sure to make note of it too and investigate if there may be an opportunity for development or mentoring.

These details provide invaluable material for feedback for the employee as ongoing development opportunities, not once off throughout the year. Keeping these types of notes also helps managers to monitor their own behaviour and see where there may be opportunities for development in their own skills.

Regularly monitor progress on goals

A goal is only as effective as its action plan to achieve it.  At LMA, we preach the importance of having S.M.A.R.T. goals, meaning that they have to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible.

Being ‘measurable’ means that there should be steps along the way that count as progress points towards the achievement of a major goal. Your team member’s goals should not be established and then put away in a drawer to be forgotten – they need to be looked at regularly, almost daily, to ensure that these goals are being actively pursued.

In a rapidly moving business environment, it is imperative for managers to stay on top of each of their team member’s goals and progress on a regular basis to ensure they are still appropriate and achievable in the context of the rest of the team member’s responsibilities. That way, goals can be adjusted at the time they need to be, not just once a year. This will ensure the goal is still S.M.A.R.T. and connected to the employee’s own sense of achievement and development.

Provide ongoing development opportunities

In some organisations, team member development is only addressed once, maybe twice a year. To properly manage year round performance, the year round development of the individual needs to be at the forefront of the manager’s mind.

To ensure team members are consistently developing, they need to be given the opportunity to pursue new skills and hone existing ones at regular intervals throughout the year. By providing regular opportunities for personal development, one-on-one coaching and feedback throughout the year, managers are facilitating this growth pattern on a consistent basis, not just sporadically when a need for training presents itself in a problem situation.

Hold more frequent review meetings

By only conducting reviews once per year, you are sending a tacit message to your team members that you are only interested in their performance at that particular time of year. While this may not be the message you intend, it encourages the troughs in performance that you are trying to avoid at slow times of year, such as just before a holiday break.

More frequent review meetings have the benefit of dealing with ‘fresher’ information, facilitating a more open and relevant conversation between managers and team member’s based on behaviour and performance closer to the real time it occurred.

While many managers and team members will be resistant to the idea of more frequent meetings, the key to overcoming this stumbling block lies in the way the meetings are recorded. By reducing paperwork and streamlining the process, the goal of a quarterly review can be more easily completed and the results filtered back into the development of the team member, as opposed to getting stuck in laborious processes and approval pipelines.

Looking for more detail on why regular one-on-one meetings are so important to a well-functioning team? Click through to our longer piece One-on-one Meetings to read more about why they are imperative to both managers and team members.