“Performance management,” are sticky words that we’ll let HR handle. Not anymore. From CEOs, to managers, to HR leaders, we’ve received hundreds of requests to share what the perfect performance management process would look like today. We’ve explored the Agile Performance Management Framework before, but frameworks are great for theory. Execution and results matter more. The following is a process that can be used by leaders in any company to dominate the performance management process.

Who Owns The Performance Management Process?

The performance management process is the responsibility of the CEO (not HR). Since every manager is the CEO of their team, it falls on them, too. Do not wait for HR to implement a new process, do not wait for HR to force you into annual reviews, do not wait for HR to implement a new software. HR does not lead your team, you do. You are the manager who is building the relationship with every direct report. You are the manager who is discussing performance wins and losses. You are the manager guiding the careers of the people you care about to success. If you do performance management correctly, any support HR provides or forces upon you will be easy and simple when mandated. Bottom line: the manager owns the performance management process. Look at HR as your friendly consultant. 

The Perfect Agile Performance Management Process

Leaders talk about continuous feedback for their direct reports but what does that mean and more importantly how do you apply the feedback in a way that is repeatable and consistent across all team members? If you do the following 4 items, you’ll have a communicative culture and a performance management process that delivers results.

  1. Daily Stand Ups: Wait? What? You want your team members to check in every day? Yes. Take 15 minutes with your team everyday. Regardless if your team is local or remote, have them all take 2-3 minutes and share what 3 major items they accomplished yesterday, what 3 items they are getting done today, and if there are any road blocks. The Daily Standups technique has been used for years by successful business owners. Benefits of daily stand ups include making sure everyone is prioritizing their day with valuable activities.
  2. Weekly/Bi-weekly 1 on 1 Meetings: We’re obviously biased at WideAngle but the data proves 1:1 meetings systematically build a strong relationship with every direct report. The biggest problem is that 1:1 meetings are the first meetings that take a back seat when fires come up — and when aren’t fires coming up at your office? When you look at the numbers, let’s write for example’s sake that you meet bi-weekly. Assuming 4 weeks of the year are out from vacation to holidays, if you meet bi-weekly that is only 24 times a year where you are individually with your direct report. Weekly or Bi-weekly 1 on 1 meetings are the best way to ensure your directs have the necessary facetime with you while pushing them to their limits.
  3. Quarterly Performance Reviews: Managers have difficulty communicating with direct reports on where they stand — this is one of the main reasons quarterly reviews must be in your performance management process. Unique skills, values, and core competencies will vary within the organization, department, and even team. It is important you put some process in place that “looks backwards” and keeps score around performance and values. If not, you’re doing a disservice to your direct reports. Ideally, your 1 on 1 meetings will be laced with numerous examples of good and bad specifics around performance. Quarterly reviews should clarify every area of opportunity for each direct report while also ensuring career conversations happen.  
  4. Annual Review:  Too many companies do annual reviews with their employees thinking it is performance management. There are many reasons companies like GE and Accenture are getting rid of  just the traditional annual reviews and moving to more frequent feedback. The annual review is no different than quarterly reviews except for one big component in the annual review: compensation. Employees need to know if they are getting a raise, why or why not, and how much? To keep employees happiest and motivated there needs to be real data as to why. The aggregation of the years 1 on 1 meetings, daily checkins, and quarterly reviews will be more than enough to provide why. Great managers are keeping this in mind throughout the year.

This is really simple. There is no need for a silver bullet or HR hack. Make sure you are leveraging these best practices and you’ll have a sounds performance management process.