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Reviews – Think ahead

September 30 is halfway mark of the business year for most companies in India.

Many Business Managers across the nation would soon be sitting with their team-members for formal or informal reviews of performance in the six months that have gone by.

Thought I should share some thoughts on the subject with them.

Reviews are good times to value-add and to look to the future. That sounds contrarian, doesn’t it?

One would think that a review is the right time to look back and to tell people where they stand, based on the findings. But living in the past will get us nowhere!

The review you conduct should be forward-thinking – treat your team as live resources who would continue producing good results for the organisation; if you treat them like dead-meat, cattle ready for the slaughter, there would be a lot of blood on your hands and a bunch of lifeless people to work with.

The meeting should be fact-based, your expectations realistic and the mood positive.

It’s best to ask the person first to give her/his impression on the half-year’s performance. If they have done well be effusive while offering congratulations and ask how they can maintain or exceed the pace – push them to exceed expectations by a large margin – but try not to reset budgets (unless market conditions or any other factor has necessitated the change), because that can be counter-productive. If you have a proper reason to change the budget it needs to be stated upfront and the person should stay charged for the period ahead.

While increasing targets you also need to confirm what additional inputs and incentives are being provided for achieving the bigger number.

If there is a shortfall in results against the target set you need to take into cognizance the reasons for such performance and how that can be avoided going forward. While discussing variances with a team-member, who has not been up to scratch, confirm that it was not a case of slackness or lack of effort. If there has been undue delay or spillover of some orders into the next half-year period you should consider giving the person the benefit of the doubt – probably the shortfall is on account of the non-availability of inputs and support from you or the organisation.

But there is no place for the slacker in your team – this message has to go across in unequivocal terms.

Remember, these days jobs are hard to come by, but so are competent people. You should not be afraid of delivering bad news; however, do so only when you are sure the person is incapable of giving you the expected results. Removing or replacing people should happen only after all other methods have been explored. It is not easy to recruit a new person and bring him up to speed in a short time.

Conduct the conversation in a cordial atmosphere and ensure all decisions are based on facts – discuss events and outcomes and how repeats of disasters can be avoided. Don’t blame the person, but focus on the actions and behaviours – work on the elements that can be corrected.

Ensure that the discussions are recorded and all parties concerned have clarity on what is to be achieved – the documents should outline who will do what, by when, and what support is to be provided.

The meeting should end on a high and the team-members should return to work feeling totally charged.

When you sit with your team for the review early next month use facts to motivate better performance in the six month period. Think business wins, not personal wins!

  1. Khurshid O Jamshir
    September 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    i also think that Post Mortem doesn’t help, Manager need to to give adequate support to his team member to improve performance. Most of the time managers just orders subordinates to achieve target but without guidance.

    • JayadevM
      September 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Hi Khurshid

      Good to see your comment here – Welcome!

      You are right – valid points.

      Managers often forget that they need to play some roles other than that of Boss – such as coach, enabler, guide and well-wisher.

      Look forward to more from you. Regards.

  2. September 25, 2012 at 2:06 am

    While I am a firm believer of the tenet that people should get back their dues both good and bad, one usually reaps what one sows.

    • JayadevM
      September 25, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Umashankar


      Good work needs appreciation and a poor performance should not be tolerated – we are discussing the delivery mechanism. Should it be the cudgel to the head or a rap on the knuckles!

      And Managers should remember not put to put on a holier-than-thou act. They need to check what role they had played in stopping things from spiraling out of control. If the team-member returned poor results even after sufficient and timely support was provided then he has every right to reprimand the man; but it has to be done objectively and professionally.

      Thank you for the response.

  3. September 25, 2012 at 2:59 am

    I think you should forward this to the managers all over the country. Sometimes in organizations especially those that have really tight schedules, the whole appraisal happens for the sake of formality (esp for those whom they are not considering for any promotions and where the employee count is large). In such cases they really play ‘Boss-Boss’ forgetting the rest of the things.

    • JayadevM
      September 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Jayashree

      Now why does that sound familiar? 🙂

      Yes, it has happened to me and such practices are rampant in Corporate India. The Boos often plays God and gets away with it too. If there is one thing the most employees are unanimous about across industries and sectors its the crib about an unfair appraisal.

      Managers pay for their poor behaviour when the employees vote with their feet. They never learn, it seems.

      Thank you for your inputs and for sparing time to read.

  4. September 25, 2012 at 3:57 am

    One important point you left. It is preferable to make this mid year/annual reviews with your counterpart in Fin & HR around – rather than the boss solo. That will give the boss a better perspective on retaining/spurring/sacking action plan and cost of sales as such… (my view)

    • JayadevM
      September 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Uday

      Thank you for the input.

      Usually it is the immediate manager that does the review – and at times there next level manager could get involved too, but rarely.

      If the role-holder is in charge of multiple functions it would be useful to have other functional heads participating in the appraisal. Excellent thought.

  5. Jamy
    October 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    You break the ice initially and make sure the person in front of you is relaxed, always deliver the positives first reminding the negatives can affect the future and either need to be eliminated or avoided and then you look into the future and get into the pep talk and yes, one of the most vital periods is where you tell the person where they are best suitable and motivate them to do even better than now for the company’s as well as their personal growth!! Always end with a handshake, smile or even a joke about ANYTHING!

    • JayadevM
      October 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Jamy

      That is a useful and constructive strategy for appraisals and reviews.

      Thank you for sharing.

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