Measuring performance is something the sporting industry knows a lot about. Results, PB’s and rankings all provide an easy yard stick for measuring the performance of an individual athlete on the field, but how do we measure the performance of those working behind the scenes in strategic management and operational delivery roles to ensure we are meeting our business goals?
Traditionally performance reviews and salary reviews have gone hand-in-hand. The better the performance, the higher the bonus or salary increase. Although this seems to be a logical coupling, how does an organisation with limited funds ensure that good performance is rewarded and provides the right motivators for your people to continue working towards supporting your strategic goals?
The answer for many organisations is to give consideration to a ‘conscious uncoupling’ of the salary review and the performance review. Conducting the salary review separately from the performance review shifts the focus from monetary rewards to developmental rewards. Reviewing performance against a set of developmental goals rather than monetary goals provides team members with a continual sense of achievement and motivation and provides the opportunity for frequent feedback on how they are contributing the strategic goals of the company.
Just like the frequency of feedback between an athlete and a coach, the frequency of performance reviews is an important factor in keeping an open dialogue between team leaders and their people. Whilst an athlete may get daily or weekly feedback on their performance, under the traditional performance review schedule, team members only get feedback once a year. This can lead to losing focus on their own goals as well as the company’s goals as they get distracted by the day to day demands of the job.
Sport is constantly evolving and a lot can change in a year. Players can develop new skills, become faster, try out different positions or even look at trying new codes. The continual feedback a coach gets from the athletes alerts the coach to when an athlete needs further development or opportunities. The same can happen behind the scenes, however with a review of team members only happening once a year, a team leader may miss these cues as they arise and it could result in the team member looking elsewhere for their development.
By moving towards two performance reviews a year, a lot of organisations have tried to keep pace with the changing needs of their people. This still leaves a six month gap between communication which is a long time to keep focus and motivation without any feedback. A quarterly review yields better results as it keeps a continued focus on developmental goals, as well as allowing enough time to develop skills or work towards a goal in between conversations. Just as athletes thrive on the next opportunity to hone their skills, so do employees.
The most recent evolution in performance review strategy mirrors the coach-athlete feedback approach more closely. Agile performance management models provide team members with feedback on an ongoing basis and are also characterised by ‘just in time’ development and short term goal setting and reviews. This allows for regular coaching and an ability for team leaders to identify areas where team members may be falling short of, or over-achieving their goals. These can then be adjusted quickly to provide real time value.
With the shift in focus to people development rather than monetary reward, the structure of performance reviews becomes more about an open dialogue than a yard stick. 360 degree reviews where team members rate their own performance as well as the performance of peers, direct reports and team leaders, and receive feedback from the same circle can also help identify areas where development could be beneficial for all concerned, even if all feedback is positive.
Performance reviews have traditionally been about impressing team leaders and not taking into account feedback from others. Encouraging feedback from all levels can have a positive effect on an organisation’s culture and give insights to strengths and weaknesses outside of ticking the boxes. An athlete gets continual feedback on how their performance affects the team but this is not always obvious for teams working off the field.
Attracting and retaining good people should be a major goal for all sporting organisations. The right people in the right roles is the only way of guaranteeing success. Keeping the dialogue open between team leaders and team members not only improves organisational performance but is key to developing and retaining talented people.
Is it time to review your performance review? Contact us for further information and advice.