The effectiveness of a manger’s performance management system will be determined by his routine. By following a performance management routine, great managers develop a rhythm of meetings and conversations with employees wherein work is planned, expectations are set, performance is monitored, and employees are developed and rewarded.
In their book First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman concluded from their research that the best managers have routines that share four characteristics:
- The routine is simple
- The routine forces frequent interaction with employees
- The routine is focused on the future
- The routine empowers the employee to track his own performance and development
A Simple Routine
It is best to keep things simple. Management is difficult enough without complicating things with a complex routine. It’s better to be simple and effective than complex and unproductive. By keeping your performance management routine simple, you will be better able to focus on what is really important; what and how to communicate with your team in order to build relationships.
Frequent Interaction with Employees
Meeting once or twice a year to talk about an employee’s goals and performance won’t do for the best managers. Meeting at least quarterly and sometimes more frequently allows you to engage in constructive conversations centered around your employee’s strengths, desires, goals and performance. You can get into the details about what is working and what is not. Waiting until the end of the year does not allow for mid-year course corrections and improvement plans. It also means your team may have to wait until the end of the year for your praise.
The best managers spend an average of one hour per quarter per employee on performance meetings. How are you doing?
Focus on the Future
While you will spend some time reviewing the past, your focus should be on the future. If performance was good, how can we make sure in continues or gets even better? If performance was sub par, how will we make sure it improves? How can you help the employee? What resources or training can you provide? By not dwelling on the past and instead focusing on the future, you can create an environment of continuous improvement and development.
Empower the Employee to Track His Own Performance and Development
Rather than making the performance appraisal something that happens to the employee, the best managers work collaboratively with their employees so they can track their own performance and development. By setting clear expectations and providing simple tools, the employee will always know how he is doing and there will be no surprises.
Introducing the Job Scorecard
The Job Scorecard is a tool that can be used as the centerpiece of a simple routine which forces frequent interaction with employees, focuses on the future and empowers them to track their progress. It is a one-page document which can be used quarterly or more frequently to allow your employees to track their own performance and development. It contains one or more Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) along with a handful of specific skills, traits, competencies and responsibilities. At each meeting, you and your employee will have a chance to discuss how things are going and map out a plan for the future. Click on Job Scorecard to download a free example. This is the Job Scorecard we use here at American Water College.
At the end of the year, you simply compile the regularly completed scorecards into an annual performance appraisal. No stress, no worries, and no surprises.
American Water College provides online and onsite technical and management training for water and wastewater professionals. Click on the link for more information about our Effective Utility Management training program. Or check out our Classroom Training Schedule for dates and locations of our upcoming events.