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Value Creation Blog

Stop Doing Employee Reviews - Coaching

Posted by Josh Patrick

employee review resized 600I believe that one of the big problems smaller businesses have is they don’t have the resources that larger companies have.  This is especially true in the realm of performance reviews.

Have you ever asked yourself why do you do reviews and what do they accomplish?  I know that I have and in every business I’ve been involved in the review process has been tortuous and at best marginally useful.

I’ve come to believe that in smaller companies performance reviews are unnecessary.  Instead we need to have performance coaching.

What is performance coaching?

Performance coaching is all about the future.  It’s not something you do once a year and it’s not something that you need to spend a lot of time planning around.  Performance coaching is not about how much an employee gets paid.

Performance coaching is all about how do we help you become better at what you do?  Make it simple.  We make it understandable to everyone.  We make it so value is added.  Finally, make it so it doesn’t take up a great deal of time.

Performance coaching is based on four things:

  • In a bullet point format, what makes you successful at your job.  (No more than 3 items)
  • What is the big rock or project that the person is concentrating on now? (A project)
  • What is the number in the company this person can influence that will move the needle?
  • How is the person environmentally fitting into the company? (Cultural Fit)

How to set up the criteria.

There is some time involved in first setting up the criteria for performance coaching.  The first step is coming up with three or four bullet points about what makes all people in your company successful.  This is a company culture question.  These bullet points are always about what makes people fit in at your company.

Next, you will need to figure out what makes people in every job in your company successful.  The good news is we don’t need a laundry list here; we only need three bullet points.  You will want to make sure the results are specific and easily understood.

A big rock is a concept I got from Gino Wickman.  The purpose of the big rock is to make sure everyone has a project.  You will want to make sure that everyone only has one project.  This is not the time to build a long list of projects individuals are going to work on.  Remember, small companies like yours have few resources and your employees have limited time for projects. 

Finally, we want everyone to have a number. The number that everyone has will be different.  It will be a number your individual employee can influence.  It’s a number that helps move the needle of success in your company.  This might take some time for you develop, but it’s worth the time and effort.

Now, you’re ready to start coaching.

You have the criteria for success.  It’s easy for you to spend five to fifteen minutes reviewing where your employee is and what specific actions they can take to get even better.  This is not a sit down review, it’s a coaching session.  It’s about minor adjustments that can be made. 

It’s not hard to remember what you talked about, you’re only tracking a few things.  You will take five to fifteen minutes with your employee on a regular basis.  It’s not a once a year gotcha; it’s a collaborative effort between you and your employees.  One that emphasizes getting better. 

You might even think about having your coaching session standing up.  This will make the session faster and less formal and one you’re likely to do more often.

Remember, it’s usually around systems.

If you find your coaching with your report needs corrective action you will want to check the system first.  If you find the system is in place that supports excellent behavior, then and only then should you talk about the individual performance.  Most of the time you’ll talk about either a breakdown in your system or how you can make the system better.

This is a coaching process.  It’s not a gotcha process.  Make sure you approach your people with the question, “How can I help you be better.”  Helping is a proactive activity and its in the proactive world value is created.

We’ve put together a special report in developing key numbers in your company.  This report can help you develop a number for everyone.  If you’re interested in getting it, click on the button below.


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Topics: business coaching, mission vision values and goals, business relationship management

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