In our first blog post on this subject, “Stop Doing Performance Reviews, Start Having Conversations, Part 1”, we discussed the long time ritual of formal performance reviews. We strongly feel that our employee performance has increased exponentially since we stopped doing reviews. Instead, we meet quarterly for 15 minutes with everyone. There is no form to fill out, only a genuine conversation where we can encourage growth and guidance in a way that suits each individual. Our goal in these meetings is always to help make better people. Better people always become better employees.
Why did we stop the formal reviews? In Part 1 we talked about how that format did not really motivate people. Here we go into other reasons why we have found this to be so beneficial to our team.
Reviews don’t provide real time feedback. If an issue arises at anytime, it’s crucial that we tell the person right away. Perhaps we wait a day or two, sometimes we need to calm down first 😉 but we always address it sooner rather than later. Even if it’s a small issue that we could potentially let go, invariably the next time this person does something small, it may get blown out of proportion. We deal with the issue and it’s put to rest.
Reviews focus on the bottom 10% – it allows managers to be comfortable letting the “Steady Eddies” keep doing their thing because they’re not a problem. They will work for you forever without a peep, but they will never strive for more. It’s our job to mentor those people, instead of spending time reprimanding those who will always be a problem and who will not be around long. Sadly, in many cases those 10% are the ones we tend to spend most of our time on, wasted time!
Reviews don’t allow the employee to let their guard down. In a formal setting like a yearly meeting, it’s hard to have a genuine conversation; employees may feel like they’re being judged and all they want to do is get their yearly raise and get out of the room as quickly as possible. In a formal review we don’t have the time or opportunity to show love and empathize with what our employees may be going through at work or at home. It’s crucial that we take time to care. Some of the 15 minute meetings we’ve had have been only to listen to someone who needed to share something that was going on in their life.
When we have these regular meetings, our employees become more comfortable with us. They get to know us. We do as much as we can to be real, to be genuine, and to even show our vulnerability. We share mistakes we’ve made and own our errors, and teach the lessons we’ve learned. They are not nervous to ask questions, share concerns, or express their real life goals. If they do not feel comfortable with us they will not be open to receiving difficult feedback. If they know us and feel like we have their best interests in mind, they will be much more likely to listen and use negative feedback constructively so they can improve. They will even seek it out. We don’t sugar coat things because we don’t need to. We’re real with the positive as well as the negative. They may not be happy but they usually come away with something tangible they need to change and what they can do to change it. These changes are always for them, not for us. That’s the key. Again, if they change themselves for the better it is always better for the company too. We all grow together, we all win.
Reviews don’t help improve your culture. Our culture has become strong through years of caring, leading by example, transparency, being direct and holding people accountable, while most importantly showing love and never losing sight of our genuine goal of helping our trainers have better lives for themselves and their families.
The culture has changed over the last several years in that we are all in this together. A client asked not too long ago if we pay our trainers to teach incoming new hires during the two week training program. We used to have to pay people or they wouldn’t volunteer. Now, no matter how busy they are, they want to help. They take ownership in the business and want to foster greatness for the team. They do it because they truly want to help make people better. They do it because they see it as an opportunity for themselves to grow in a leadership capacity. They do it because it’s the right thing to do.
While doing 2-3 weeks of meetings every quarter is extremely time and all-consuming, it might be one of the single best changes we’ve made in how we operate our business. It may not be feasible in a large organization, but for a small business it is very doable, and for us, absolutely vital to our success. We love getting to know our people better and for them to get to know us. We enjoy seeing the amazing leadership and growth that our team consistently strives for and achieves. We couldn’t be more proud of our people and what they’ve done. If we can in some way help foster that spark and that drive to be better, we are all in!