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Performance Clinic: Tips For High Team Performance

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Wel­come to Per­for­mance Clin­ic, a new series from Clear Review. We’ll be answer­ing ques­tions from col­leagues, cus­tomers and any­one with a per­for­mance or engage­ment conun­drum. If you have a burn­ing ques­tion you’d like to put to our board of experts then get in touch with us on Linkedin or by email. We’ll keep all ques­tions anony­mous, naturally.

This week, we ran a webi­nar — 5 Crit­i­cal Con­ver­sa­tions for High Per­for­mance — a real­ly insight­ful look at the sort of con­ver­sa­tions you need to have at work and how to nav­i­gate them. We explored the crit­i­cal first day meet­ing between a new starter and their man­ag­er, top tips for a great check-in per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tion and career dis­cus­sion, and gave our insights into how man­agers can tack­le the more tricky, but essen­tial con­ver­sa­tions includ­ing well­be­ing and realign­ment (our name for the under-per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tion). We received some very prac­ti­cal ques­tions at the end and we’ve col­lat­ed the answers here from our CEO Stu­art Hearn, Head of Per­for­mance and Change Exper­tise Ami­ra Kohler and Chief Con­scious­ness Offi­cer Natasha Wal­lace. The full pre­sen­ta­tion plus ques­tions is avail­able on-demand now.

Who is respon­si­ble for sched­ul­ing check-ins? Is it the man­ag­er or the employee? 

So let’s start with how it works in the Clear Review mod­el. We take the posi­tion that con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance improve­ment is the con­cern of both par­ties; both have the abil­i­ty to set the meet­ing, and if a meet­ing hasn’t hap­pened for a while then both man­ag­er and employ­ee get the prompt to book one. 

Hav­ing said that, there are orga­ni­za­tion­al things to con­sid­er here. On the one hand, no one should care about the employee’s per­for­mance more than the employ­ee them­selves. On the oth­er, some orga­ni­za­tions are quite tra­di­tion­al in their out­look and will want the process to be manager-led. 

There’s no right or wrong answer. The impor­tant thing is that the meet­ings hap­pen and that they’re mean­ing­ful and future-focused. We also find the respon­si­bil­i­ty can shift over time – in a new employ­ee / man­ag­er rela­tion­ship it would be usu­al for the man­ag­er to take own­er­ship for sched­ul­ing the meet­ings, but over time it might become the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the employee. 

It’s hard enough to get man­agers to meet once a year for appraisals. How can we get them to meet more reg­u­lar­ly than that?

This is an absolute­ly clas­sic ques­tion. The first thing to note is that a per­for­mance check-in con­ver­sa­tion is not the same as the tra­di­tion­al (and much-maligned) per­for­mance appraisal. I think if organ­i­sa­tions were try­ing to per­suade their man­agers to do an appraisal six or more times a year there would under­stand­ably be uproar! No one wants that! A great check-in is just that: a chance to check in on per­for­mance over the recent weeks; to con­sid­er feed­back and lessons learned; to find oppor­tu­ni­ties to lever­age strengths; to review goals and see if they need to be amend­ed to keep them rel­e­vant and mean­ing­ful. Crit­i­cal­ly, it’s a chance to look for­ward to the next period. 

Let’s take mea­sure­ment as an exam­ple. Most peo­ple want mea­sure­ment data around per­for­mance man­age­ment — and right­ly so — but I’ve seen some very con­vo­lut­ed, com­plex ways of rank­ing and rat­ing peo­ple. Some­thing like that can add a lay­er of detail and busy­work that you just don’t need if you’re meet­ing reg­u­lar­ly. No one is sug­gest­ing that mea­sure­ment is removed, but if you have reg­u­lar check-ins to dis­cuss per­for­mance, that should give the man­ag­er an excel­lent idea of how the employ­ee is per­form­ing. Does adding a 4 out of 5” to the end of that real­ly give you any insight that you didn’t have already? 

The point of con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment is to focus your ener­gy on the things that make per­for­mance bet­ter. In the vast major­i­ty of cas­es, you see the val­ue when you have the meetings. 

You talked about the impor­tance of the man­ag­er hav­ing a well­ness con­ver­sa­tion when an indi­vid­ual may be strug­gling with work, home, or their feel­ings at work. Sure­ly man­agers are the group fac­ing the biggest risk of phys­i­cal and men­tal health issues? Where do they fit into this picture? 

You are absolute­ly right — man­agers are employ­ees too. Some­times we for­get that. And whilst I don’t know if they’re the most at risk, cer­tain­ly it’s some­thing we need to be aware of. 

How do you address this? A well­be­ing mind­set and cul­ture has to per­me­ate the orga­ni­za­tion. Just as man­agers need to be aware of the strain their employ­ees are under, so senior lead­ers need to do the same for managers. 

When organ­i­sa­tions start hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions in a more open way, this makes a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence. When every­one (from the CEO down) is able to notice and be aware of the chal­lenges their col­leagues are fac­ing, that will help. Cre­ate the envi­ron­ment. Make peo­ple aware that it’s okay and healthy to speak up. If you work in a cul­ture where you hard­ly ever speak to your man­ag­er (or your employ­ees), it’s very hard to go from that to a chal­leng­ing con­ver­sa­tion about re-align­ment or well­be­ing. But if you nor­malise the cul­ture, and help peo­ple under­stand that it’s ok to be vul­ner­a­ble — it’s ok to ask for help — you’re on the right path. 

Learn more

To learn more, watch the full webi­nar on 5 Crit­i­cal Con­ver­sa­tions for High Per­for­mance.

Watch webinar now!

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