Most managers and employees don’t know their own organization’s strategic goals. So, whether you’re reviewing a middle manager or a front-line supervisor, there are good reasons to make the discussion more strategic. For starters, you’ll have more productive and effective leaders on your team; along with higher engagement and retention of key talent. Here are 4 ways to make that happen.
These tips are designed primarily for immediate impact with your team members in their upcoming reviews, not for how you conduct the entire performance management process. But if you carry these ideas into your ongoing feedback and coaching regimen next year, you’ll continue to build a team that delivers more value for the organization and helps each of them build more fulfilling careers.
Make business strategy and priorities central to the discussion. Even executives sometimes lose the forest for the trees when it comes to appraisals. In a conversation there is a tendency to focus on specific goals or behaviors rather than how they contribute to achieving the strategy itself. Create an opening narrative for your discussion that provides an overview of your team member’s performance in light of your organization’s strategy. Then keep referring back to strategy as you break into specific content.
Have a conversation. Shared responsibility for the discussion feels more engaging and will increase ownership of the results. Asking questions is always an effective leadership skill. Here it pays extra dividends. How clear is your direct report on the business strategy and her role in making that happen? What you’re looking for here is a way to frame up the discussion of their performance in a strategic way, even as you’re gaining information on how they perceive their performance and its alignment to strategy.
- What business priorities do you think you made the biggest contributions to this year? Why?
- Which of your goals do you feel was most aligned with (for example) client retention, and how so?
- Which of next year’s business goals do you think our team will impact the most? How do you see yourself supporting that goal?
- What skill development would help you be a more strategic asset to the organization?
Motivate with strategic involvement. Explain how their future performance will impact their ability to advance to projects and roles that increasingly have more impact on strategy. Link their ability to develop key skills to becoming a more valuable asset to the organization. Ask them what part of the strategy motivates them the most. Ask what roles, projects, and skills they think will help them get there. Provide your input and agree to a plan.
You want your team to not only understand business strategy, and how it aligns with their work. You want them to internalize it as part of what drives them to succeed. You want to help them make it a part of how they develop skills and reach career goals. This feeds into three of the biggest needs we all have… knowing what’s expected of me, knowing that my manager cares about me and knowing that what I’m working on matters.