How to Conduct an Employee Performance Meeting

Last week I outlined the Performance Excellence Process as a better alternative to the performance review. Better because it’s future-focused, results-oriented, and requires both the employee and the manager to take responsibility for the employee’s performance. Let’s take a look at the Performance Excellence Process in action.
Performance Excellence meetings are where the process comes to life. When should they occur? Structured Performance Excellence meetings should take place prior to the start of each fiscal year and then every 3 – 6 months. Informally, they should happen organically, in real time. The informal meetings shouldn’t feel like “meetings”, they should just happen. Such as when a manager recognizes an employee who just solved a problem that was frustrating a customer.
The themes of the structured Performance Excellence meetings are: continuous improvement, employee development, and employee support.
1)     What outcomes were achieved since the last meeting and why?
The goal here is context. How well did the employee perform and what helped or hindered achievement of the desired outcomes? The primary purpose is to understand what and why; the secondary purpose is to judge.
2)     What improvement outcomes is the employee expected to achieve in the future?
It’s critical that the manager takes into account the organization’s needs, the support required by the employee, the organization’s ability to provide it, and the employee’s level of development and past performance. (More might be expected of a seasoned employee than a new employee, for example.)
3)     What actions will the manager and/or employee take to help the employee develop and improve?
Does the employee need training? Coaching? More real-time performance feedback? The goal here is to identify the most time-and-cost-effective actions.
4)     What support will the manager provide?
The limiting factor may have nothing to do with the employee. It may simply be a matter of support – having sufficient resources or well-designed processes, for example. Providing the necessary support rests squarely on the shoulders of management.
Each structured Performance Excellence meeting should be documented in no more than 1 – 2 pages, noting answers to the questions outlined above.
Unsurprisingly, the tone of the Performance Excellence meeting is very different from that of the performance review meeting. And for good reason. Because at the end of the day the goal isn’t merely to review performance, it’s to deliver performance excellence.
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