Performance reviews

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Many business leaders struggle with having the right sense of urgency when taking corrective action to address an employee’s sub-standard performance.
Dealing with employee performance problems is certainly not fun. The challenge for many leaders is in managing the balance between being compassionate and doing what’s right for the individual and the company.
Successful business leaders know the cost of being slow to take corrective action addressing poor individual performance. Allowing poor individual performance to linger for an extended period of time not only negatively impacts the financial performance of an organization, but it also negatively impacts company morale, thereby de-motivating the workforce.
Good management starts with clarity
Success begins with having a clear vision of the future and a clear set of performance expectations for all departments and for every individual within the organization.
High expectations must be set for customer satisfaction and business performance throughout the organization. Virtually all employees must understand the company’s key business themes and how they link to customer satisfaction and competitive performance.
Employees must also understand their department’s plans, how they link to key business themes and how their individual and departmental performance contributes to the overall success of the business.
It’s the job of management to ensure effective performance reviews occur on an ongoing basis. Often, managers will evaluate and then inappropriately rate their employee’s performance a bit higher than their actual performance would deserve. Inaccurate performance reviews/ appraisals hurt a company’s chances for growing earnings performance. Many managers and their performance review processes are good at identifying excellent and poor employee performance, but they fall short when it comes to providing candid and meaningful feedback for the middle performers.
Be candid
Once a performance problem is evident, it’s time to provide meaningful feedback.
It’s actually unfair and cruel to an individual’s development not to provide candid feedback in a meaningful and compassionate fashion. It’s also unfair to the other individuals within the organization to turn a blind eye to underperformance. Weak managers do this often because they don’t have the confidence to deliver a difficult message, or they don’t have absolute clarity and consensus with performance expectations.
Act with the appropriate sense of urgency
Evaluating individual performance should be standard operating procedure, consistently implemented following a ritualistic approach for reviewing performance and responding to both negative as well as positive variances from plan. To be inconsistent and/or consistently late at conducting performance reviews is a common trait found among organizations not maximizing their earnings potential.
Business leaders struggle with this all the time. They struggle providing meaningful performance feedback in a timely fashion, and they struggle with addressing individual performance problems.
If your organization doesn’t have a consistent process for evaluating individual operating performance, the lack of timely performance reviews can allow poor performance and bad attitudes to overtake a department and/or an organization robbing it of the energy and enthusiasm necessary to fuel growth and prosperity.
Philip Mydlach is the owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement practice in Waukesha. He can be reached at (262) 662-4646 or
June 24, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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