A daunting task for any first time manager is conducting solo performance reviews for their team members. The time required to prepare for and conduct a professional review is often hugely underestimated, but planning well ahead helps the process.
I observed a personal productivity pilot session recently for a team of 15 first time managers. They had just been through a restructure, some of them had been asked to step up, and their manager had been replaced. Although not the session’s main theme, it came out in conversation that none of them had done a performance review and it was coming up to ‘that time of year’. It would be fair to say there was considerable angst about the process!
One thing that became apparent is that they hadn’t factored enough time into their busy schedules. They had dutifully put aside 90 mins in their diaries for a conversation with each of their direct reports but they failed to schedule enough time to do their research and properly prepare, not to mention the paperwork and follow up after the session.
One stressed-out manager realised that each review was likely to take him at least four hours all-up x 11 people = 44 hours, a whole week of his time, if he did nothing else. He stated loudly that this was “just not going to happen”. One of his team-mates pointed out that yes, it was a lot of time that he’d need to block out over a few weeks, but in the scheme of things, dedicating four hours a couple of times a year for a well-considered formal review was something everybody deserved.
It was point well made by a peer going through the same challenges and an attitude check for most. I bet that blocking out sufficient time for performance reviews is something this group will remember to do throughout their careers.
While working through one of the Planning Ahead tools the participants logically concluded that they needed to schedule more time for their reviews. However, the key learning arguably came through the conversation and emotion the activity stimulated. Facilitating relevant conversations and learning from each other is one of the key benefits of the TakeON! approach to developing managers into better leaders and this is but one practical example of how it works.
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