I have had the dubious honor of delivering an Annual Review, you probably dread it each year. Those who receive your reviews awkwardly and meekly walk into your office, sit down across your desk from you, and squirm their way through yet another pointless conversation.
Pointless? Isn’t it important for employees to be reviewed? What about coaching? Isn’t that important?
Let me tell you a story of two coaching environments. Two different companies, two extremely different sales leaders.
I was consistently #1 in measurable objectives related to sales – month after month after month. I was the go-to person on my team for product questions. My supplier representatives knew that if they needed something to be sold, placed, and anchored I was their guy.
Then I got my review. The review I got told me that I was basically garbage sauce.
Garbage sauce is a term I might have coined (not entirely sure). You could put garbage sauce on the most perfectly seasoned, aged, and cooked steak and guess what? It’s going to taste like garbage.Me (maybe)
This single, front and back piece of paper was handed to me in the back room of a convenience store.
“Do you have any questions?” my manager asked.
I scanned through my “grades” in several categories. I could feel the heat of anger spreading and knew that it was probably best to make this a short meeting.
“Nope.” I replied, and went back to my task.
“Okay I need you to sign it.”
Sign it I did. After handing his copy back to him, I turned and walked out of the room.
There was no coaching here. It was clearly an obligatory delivery and an obligatory receipt. It was delivered from a person who had not been involved in my performance – good or bad – since the last time I got one of those pieces of paper.
What did it accomplish? You might think it didn’t accomplish anything but it did. That was the day I decided that I was done at that company.
That review was the representation of a toxic culture of finger pointing, complaining, and worthless KPIs.
Compare that scenario to another one. A different company and different sales leader.
There are no documented performance reviews. Two to three times per week I get coached, pushed, and held accountable. I have an opportunity to shape the conversation, ask for help, and soak up years of experience I haven’t had time to obtain.
Take it a step further.
This leader doesn’t just answer questions. I get pushed to talk to other people at the company, to collect experience not just from one place or point of view.
It’s a culture thing.
I am not a recipient of a performance review, I am not required to deliver performance reviews. That does NOT mean I don’t coach my direct reports. That does NOT mean that they aren’t reviewed.
Our culture is a meritocracy where the reviews happen automatically and frequently. Our performance is our review.
It’s time to put these annual reviews to rest. Take the opportunity to get involved on a regular basis with your team members.
More importantly, be a person from whom your team wants coaching.
How can you influence someone on your team, if they question your intent?
If you truly and honestly coach from a place of making your team members better, you will immediately find that your conversations become richer, deeper, and more powerful.