Podcast Episode 18 - Performance Reviews

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by Johnny Shiu

In the week’s episode Henry, Rusty, and William discuss how we can love on our team members through performance reviews.  As entrepreneurs, it’s highly likely that you are overseeing a team.  As Christ followers, how do we display Christ in the performance review?

To set the stage, our resident HR expert, Rusty, advises that performance reviews are designed to help people to become better.  With this motivation in mind, it’s important to not look backwards, but to look forward. 

The manager should set goals with the employee. Do not wait six months or twelve months to give feedback.  It’s important to give continuous feedback to team members.  Like a coach leading an athlete, continuous feedback is superior to just periodic encounters.  

Henry observed that different people seem to have different needs in this area.  Some crave feedback, while some do not crave it all that much. According to Rusty, we should remember that one size fits one, not one size fits all.  To display Christ during this process, Rusty would first make sure he understood the personal and professional dreams of each employee.  Because “to be unclear is to be unkind”,  (Dave Ramsey) being clear with team members as to performance expectations and goals is one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do for them, and for the company.

While some employees don’t care for continuous feedback, Rusty reminds us that they still want to know where they stand. The worst thing is for an employee to wonder and have to ask, “how am I doing?”  

A performance review is merely tool, of which there are many. Some companies are moving away from performance reviews, opting for a “continuous coaching” paradigm, while others use extensive 360 degree feedback tools.  All have pros/cons, but the aim is to grow people. Let’s tell them that we care. 

Rusty then introduces a potential new paradigm, one in which companies break pay increases from performance feedback.  Performance and pay do not always have to go together.   Performance is the baseline such as making sure the employee is doing her job. Next, is she exceeding her job?  Separately, pay is market-driven especially for in-demand jobs.  As a result, there’s room to divorce the two.  The market is the market.  And performance can be discussed separately. 

Ultimately, feedback is key.  Remember the golden rule, such a good one!  Treat others as you would want to be treated, can't go too wrong :)

Last piece of advice, for entrepreneurs who do not really report to any one, Henry advises that they would do well to seek out counsel externally in order to get constructive feedback.  Boards and partners are great, but they have blindspots from being too close.