Whether you are holding a formal annual performance review or holding an informal monthly or quarterly performance meeting, there are five questions you need to ask to drive the performance of your team members.
- How are you?
- What’s the progress towards achieving your KPIs?
- What are the obstacles to progress?
- How can I help remove the obstacles to progress?
- How are you progressing in your personal development plan?
1. How are you?
The performance of your people is driven by the strength of your relationship. Every leader I have spoken to about High Performing Teams has emphasised the importance of the care factor. Being genuinely interested in the lives of the people you work with builds trust and loyalty. Leaders who build trust and loyalty get better performance out of their people. This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with everyone in your team. It just means you need to slow down and demonstrate that you’re human, that you’re interested in their life outside work and you care about how they are going.
2. What’s the progress towards achieving your KPIs?
Having clear roles, goals and KPIs is critical to individual and team success and the research by Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile in The Progress Principle makes it clear that the primary thing that drives people to perform at their best is making progress. (see my previous blog https://www.balancedcurve.com/want-energise-team-talk-progress/). Having regular meaningful conversations about progress towards achieving KPIs means that people stay focused on what’s important and understand that they are going to be held accountable. It gives you a chance to ask questions, identify issues, provide feedback and insights, and assess priorities which will sometimes need to change. And of course having regular discussions during the year about KPIs means there are no surprises at the Annual Review. If there have been any issues, you will have raised your concerns and hopefully offered guidance and support.
3. What are the obstacles to progress?
It’s very useful to be able to reflect on challenges and issues and talk about them with your boss. Some people are comfortable doing this but many feel reluctant to share concerns as they don’t want to take up your valuable time or don’t want to appear inadequate or lacking competence. Asking this question gives people permission to share their concerns and problems. Often all you have to do is listen – your people will come up with the solutions themselves.
4. How can I help remove the obstacles to progress?
Making it clear to your people that you want them to succeed and see part of your role as providing them with reasonable support is incredibly motivating. There is clearly a fine line between providing someone with appropriate support and allowing them to abdicate their responsibility, but it is important people understand that you will go into bat for them to assist overcome obstacles to progress.
5. How are you progressing in your personal development plan?
This question assumes your people have a development plan because in my view everyone should have some form of development plan. If your people don’t have individual development plans then you should make it a priority to work with them to put something in place. Demonstrating that you actually care about someone’s development can be very powerful.
One of the few things I do like about the Annual Performance Review Process is that when done well, it gives you and your people the chance to step back and think about their career development. This is incredibly important in ensuring people continue to evolve and improve their ability to do their current role and set themselves up for future roles if that’s what they want. Asking this question on a regular basis demonstrates that you are serious about the whole development plan process, ensures that development plans aren’t forgotten and increases the prospect that meaningful action will take place to facilitate professional development. In my experience these conversations are important in keeping people motivated. They build trust and loyalty and ultimately help to drive performance.
Have a great week.