The most challenging task for most people managers is to have performance conversations. Some of those can be difficult ones which are focused on negative feedback. Others are difficult because you might need to share news about not being able to give the employee a promotion or role change despite great performance being demonstrated. In all these conversations the only thing that will strengthen them is the way the communication pans out. Managers, therefore need to be trained on becoming adept at face-to-face communication. A credible performance management certification will focus on sharing how such conversations can be worked upon to make them more meaningful.
Here are some ways to strengthen face-to-face discussions related to review –
- Always be prepared – An unprepared conversation will never convey what you intend and you will tend to miss out of key aspects that you need to share. Spending time before the review discussion on writing down what are the points of discussion, how you want to share each of those and what facts should be present with you, will help you verbalize it better.
- Anticipate the questions and be ready – The employees will have questions that they want answers to while the performance management discussion is going on. They will have questions that will relate to the performance from the past and also the kind of career path that they can expect in the future. Managers need to be prepared for these with suitable and realistic answers so that the conversations become more meaningful. For the employee to make such a conversation better, he or she needs to ensure that they think through their queries and come for it.
- Getting feedback from multiple sources – Performance management conversations are more relevant when the inputs have come in from multiple sources. It is the manager and the team member’s job to ensure that such feedback is part of the discussion and points from that are covered. Such feedback comes from all stakeholders and vendors.
- Develop your own feedback style – Every individual needs to have his or her own feedback style that works for them. This style is developed as they conduct more and more conversations on performance management and realize what works for them and the person being appraised. Providing feedback is not an easy task. But when you find your own way of giving it, it becomes simpler to manage and much more effective. Some people prefer to keep it designed as an exchange of questions and answers. Others like to structure it in a way where the feedback is shared first and then the questions are discussed.
- Have a list with the details ready – Instead of a range of qualitative comments that are being shared in a conversation, without a connection with each other, have a list of details ready that define the flow of the discussion. This list could be a summary of your achievement of milestones and how you have progressed from the last such conversation. You need to be able to make the progress from the previous year visible and measurable.
- Keep the discussion open and inclusive of other areas – The discussion needs to centre around performance, but being open and transparent about roadblocks, employee concerns, work culture challenges if any, is key. Not only that, you need to try and include other elements of life which are outside of work, such as the family, hobbies, health and wellness, of the appraisee. These are ways to ensure that you let the employee know that he or she can share whatever they are comfortable too, with you. It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that you realize they have a life outside of work and it is important to them to pursue that as well.
- Share or ask for insights about peers – Employees who talk nicely about their peers who are performing well are an asset that you must not lose. They are the ones who will focus on the collaborative spirit rather than unnecessary competition. So encourage them to share their insights. As a manager, you need to filter out the negative comments that come up, evaluate what the employee is sharing and also consider the good qualities of the appraisee when he or she talks about their team members.
- Keep your conversation structured but prepare for the unknown – A lot of managers over prepare for the session. The structure it in their minds and on paper, and as a result of that they do not realize how to respond to something unexpected that might come up. They are flustered and so they might end up responding to it incorrectly. Hence while preparation is the key, you need to also make sure that you are responsive when something that you did not anticipate comes up.
These are some ways in which manager-team member discussions can become more meaningful and enriching for both of them. It can result in higher impact by becoming more effective and well-planned.