Taking a Coaching Approach to the Review Process

At our house my husband and I have good-natured, running battles about who has it best, husbands or wives.

He says that thanks to hardworking men, we women live the good life. I, of course, scoff, and say because of the care of their wives, men live the good life.

Of course, neither of us is correct – or serious. And neither of us lives the good life at the expense of the other. We help each other; we carry the load together. I wondered what makes our marriage work. Why are we still married when so many marriages around us are falling apart?

I came up with primarily one answer: communication. More specifically, two-way communication. And further, constant, ongoing two-way communication.

It occurred to me a day or so following this discovery — that this same "culture of dialogue" can benefit employees and managers.

A culture of dialogue in a business creates a safe, supportive environment that keeps communication flowing and performance high.

A once-a-year meeting or performance review, on the other hand, is more likely to resemble a gripe fest. As a result, as one side lists frustrations and shortcomings, the other side, most likely taken aback, retreats or goes on the defensive.

The bottom line is that no one wins.

“Whoa,” you say. “Are you maintaining that the tool most often used to evaluate and improve performance — the performance review — is incapable of helping organizations reach their overall goal?”

Indeed. Performance reviews are like looking in the rearview mirror to see where an employee has been…and perhaps failed. Further, since performance reviews occur once a year, if at all, they require us to look back over a long period of time. They make the manager look petty (“Let’s talk about your performance on that project nine months ago…”), and even if viewed positively, any corrective solutions are generally too late to do any good.

So what’s the answer?

Face forward. Establish that “culture of dialogue” I mentioned, and by that I mean daily communication rather than once-a-year meetings…performance previews rather than performance reviews…coaching rather than performance appraisals.

Coach early and often
Coaching delivers major results when it comes to developing employees, improving performance and increasing return on investment.

In fact, studies show that coaching delivers a 150 percent greater return on investment than performance appraisals.

You read that correctly — 150 percent!

With that number in mind — coupled with the dread almost everyone feels about performance appraisals — you have to wonder why all managers don’t coach.

Coaching provides counsel in real time and clearly identifies goals in the context of the employee’s job.

If you coach early and often, you’ll catch potential problems before they happen. Further, continuous interest and feedback through coaching will ensure better performance.

What about you? Are you still using performance reviews? How well are they working for you? Isn’t it time you take a development or coaching approach to the review process?

Tips: Four Steps to Help You Move from Performance Review to Coaching

In a performance review process, managers coach in order to fix an issue after it has been identified in an appraisal.

In the performance preview or coaching system I’ve been talking about here, however, we use feedback and development as tools to drive success rather than fix problems.

If such coaching takes place routinely and is tailored to the employee and the specific job, it becomes part of the fabric of your culture.

Doesn’t this sound like an easier way to teach and a more positive way to learn?

But how do you move from performance review to coaching? Here are four tips to help you in the process:

1) Eliminate the performance review. Discontinue scoring employees on a checklist of predetermined attributes.
2) Link performance measures to desired corporate results. Evaluate employee and his or her manager as a unit according to these measures.
3) Replace reviews with previews or coaching by establishing an ongoing dialogue between employee and manager whereby each is responsible for asking the other: What can I do to make us work together better and get the results we desire? Focus on making the system work better in the future. Do not focus on the past or, in particular, on past failures.
4) Get the “big boss” involved. The “big boss” should actively monitor the manager/employee team to make sure it’s achieving the results its members pledged to achieve.

Maybe the most important thing to remember about these steps is this: If they are to succeed, the environment needs to feel safe enough that both parties can be honest with one another.

In addition, all parties must remember that the primary goals in moving from a review to a coaching society are 1) to improve company results and, 2) to provide an opportunity for people to grow.

Your Solution Toolbox: ProfileXT®, the Tool that Matches People to Jobs

Measuring What Matters

All this talking about coaching and performance previews vs. reviews, and I haven’t made clear one thing: No amount of coaching can make a success out of someone unsuited for a job.

To be successful, employees must have the right level of learning ability, and they must be motivated to do the work. In addition, their behavioral makeup or personality must equip them to do the job well.

You cannot get the information necessary to match people to jobs from candidates’ résumés or from conventional interviews. Indeed there’s only one way to uncover this information: by formal assessment of candidates using tools like the ProfileXT® (PXT) designed specifically for this task.

The PXT uses a job match pattern that you develop by examining employees who are most and least successful in a given position. Their scores provide benchmarks for new job candidates in the same position. PXT can also help determine the best candidates for internal promotions.

If you want a winning team, you must get the right people in your court and that means investing in attracting, recruiting and retaining the right people for your organization. If you’d like to put ProfileXT® to work in your organization, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.

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