In our recent series of blogs,  I have been talking about my mission to change the face of ‘appraisals’ for small businesses across the land.

Last week I took inspiration from Sarah Harvey’s book ‘Savvy Performance Management’ in defining what performance management actually is.  To recap, Sarah defines performance management as:

  • Discussing performance
  • Holding people to account
  • Providing development and motivational feedback
  • Giving praise for a job well done

I completely agree with Sarah’s approach, and this was highlighted only too clearly last week when I attended some performance appraisals for a client.  The client was dealing with a bit of a backlog of reviews, and the common response we had from most employees was ‘I wish someone had told me about it at the time, so I could have done something about it’.  

Employees want to know if they are doing a good job, and want to be given the opportunity to improve or be rewarded in real time – not a year after the event happened.  

All too often we hear of managers saving up all of their feedback (good and bad) for the annual appraisal.  The common response is that they were too busy to have more regular catch ups, so wrote it down ready for an annual appraisal.

The trouble with this is that our world moves at such a rapid pace it is hard to remember what went on last week, let alone 4 months ago, so any feedback given this far after the event has such little impact, other than being terribly negative, it’s questionable as to whether or not you should bother at all.  So there has to be a better way of approaching appraisals and performance management in modern businesses.  

This is where 121’s come into their own.  

A regular, structured 121 with your team member gives you the ability to meet the 4 points detailed above simply and without stress.  It allows you to build a close, trusting relationship with your employee, and both of you will always know where you stand.

Absolutely everyone, no matter how busy they are, can spare 20 minutes every month to sit down with a team member and give them some feedback, ask them how they are getting on and listen to any concerns. Approaching performance management in this way makes sure that problems don’t escalate into huge issues, people feel rewarded in real time for a job well done and feedback can be taken on board and adjustments made instantly.  

The 121’s can then be used to feed into a more formal annual appraisal, so you have a rounded view of performance and progress throughout the year?

So how do you structure your conversation?

There are loads of online tools that you can use to support in your 121 conversations.  We love Breathe HR, and as a trusted partner we have implemented it for a number of our clients.

Don’t want the tech? Why not download our free 121 sheet.  Simply print it off and fill it in every time you have a 121. If we can help in any other way, get in touch.

You are welcome.