Employee Performance Conversation 101

Annual performance reviews are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Today's companies are replacing these old fashioned assessments with much more frequent 'performance conversations.' But as this method of monitoring becomes the norm, ways of keeping track of the conversations is important too. Here's our quick 101 guide for managing your next performance conversations.

Establish Your Purpose

Knowing the purpose for calling employee meetings will help you stay focused and on track with them. You should begin by checking the employee’s current status in terms of morale, stress, overall health. Keep track of performance and development goals, find out if the employee is experiencing any roadblocks to achieving these goals, and discuss how they can be overcome. Always try to give valuable feedback and encouragement, and offer coaching where required. Also, discuss information, formally and informally, about the company.

Initiate the Meetings

As a manager, it should be one of your goals to have an ongoing dialogue with each employee. This will enable you to keep track of their progress and facilitate their development. It’ll help you understand your employees as individuals. It will also help to make sure that you’re both on the same page. It’s a good idea to meet each member of staff at least on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. One way of doing this is to initiate one-on-one meetings that deliberately allocate a time slot for each employee. This will go a long way to keeping everyone up to date and feeling like they’re being heard.

Keep it Short

Try to keep the meeting to half an hour or less. Structure the conversations to allow about ten minutes for the employee to ask questions and voice concerns. Another ten minutes can be used to express your concerns or messages. The last ten minutes should be kept for sharing information.

Use Software to Record the Meetings

You need to keep a record on follow up actions and staff development. Performance conversation software is an excellent tool for this. One of the major benefits of recording meetings is that the specific staff member can be held accountable for deliverables. Of course, a notebook and pen could be used for this, but notes can be lost or forgotten. It’s much simpler to use software to archive the conversations which you can access later.

You can always check if the individual employee is working on the goals you have both agreed on. If not, you will then be able to follow up by asking what is holding them up and help them get moving towards the goals. Recording the meetings also allows the employee to hold you accountable and serves as a reminder of any incentives that you may have promised.

Watch for Trends

Using recording software also means that the trends of discussions can be followed. You’ll be able to see if there are issues that frequently come up. Another advantage is that you’ll also be able to really hear what the employee is struggling with. For instance, are they always falling short in a specific area or are they looking for further opportunities to develop their skills?

Annual meetings make it difficult to watch for trends. If you meet weekly or monthly and track the conversation, you’ll begin to see patterns emerging. Recognising these patterns means that you’ll be able to provide resources and necessary skills training to “grow” your employees until they all reach their maximum potential.

Goal Awareness and Facilitation

Most employees have future goals and aspirations. By having regular one-on-one meetings, you’ll be able to discover their career plans. Getting to this long-term goal happens when several smaller steps are taken in the short term.

For example, one of your employees may be a junior salesperson, but they want to one day work as an accounts manager. They’ll need to set small, short-term goals aimed at acquiring the skills necessary to take on this role and the increased responsibility such a role will bring.

Perhaps they could be assigned to watch sales calling demonstrations and work on strengthening their phone skills. One-on-one meetings are a great way of helping employees like this to determine short term goals that will assist them to realise their future vision. You’ll be able to keep track of their progress by monitoring their steps forward. This will enable you to provide guidance and encouragement where necessary.

Employees as Individuals

Regular meetings with employees will enable you as a manager to get to know your employees as individuals. You’ll start to learn the areas where they lack confidence, their strengths and weak points, along with any particular skillsets they possess already. This will also allow you to keep them better motivated.

Recording the interactions will mean that when necessary, you’ll be able to choose the correct person for a specific task, maximising each one’s strengths. Plus, it will enable you to establish which employees are ready for promotion or a salary increase, and which ones are unmotivated or lacking behind in the performance stakes.

Staff Feel Valued

Having one-on-one meetings ensures that employees feel valued. It shows them that you are interested in their personal and career development. It also provides them with the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have or ask questions they wouldn’t feel free to express in group meetings. Studies have shown that employees who feel they are being heard are more likely to be productive members of the team. They’re also more likely to go the extra mile when necessary.

To Sum Up

The manager-employee relationship is the basic organisational unit of any company. All teams, divisions and departments flow from this. Regular, frequent, eye to eye meetings provide a forum where manager and employee can communicate openly. Employees feel more informed and involved and come away with a greater sense of ownership. This adds to their sense of job satisfaction and increases productivity.

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