Ah...Annual Review Time! Just like Christmas (and tax day!) it comes calling every year. While some schools of thought have labeled the once-per-year reckoning as old fashioned, many organizations find the exercise a reliable platform to address individual job quality. Whether your company follows a traditional or more frequent performance review schedule, managers are required to assess employee performance. Maybe you look forward to discussing individual job optimization; maybe you grit your teeth and pray for the best. Whatever your mindset, it's important to remember that this is your "report card time" as well.
You may be thinking right about now that this article is not about conducting a performance review. You would be right. It's about what we, as supervisors, should be doing all year to fulfill our part of the manager-employee contract. Work performance is a two-way street.
I know, I know. Times are tough. As we climb out of the recession, everyone is extremely busy. We have important responsibilities on our plates, we have customers and investors to keep happy and we have profit margins to maintain. AND, we still have people to direct, develop, guide and manage. When we ignore that part of the equation, we court risk. Experienced leaders know this: ignore human capital and you will encounter expensive lessons on why not to do it next time.
It's easy to delay and avoid discussions about career-tracking and development plans when budgets are thin and work piles are high. After all, people should just be understanding and happy that they have a job, right? Nope. Not a good way to look at it. If you have talented and engaged employees that you depend on, you need to mindfully invest in those activities which will retain a valuable workforce. Good employees do not grow on trees.
Strategic human capital management isn't about spending money the business does not have or signing up for expensive programs that only a few employees will benefit from. It's not about handing out bonuses. It's not about making promises you can't keep. It's about maintaining a connection with your people; acknowledging their accomplishments, addressing their concerns and providing an environment of growth and open communication.
Here is a supervisory check list. Give yourself an "A" if you regularly do these things:
- I meet with my people, or lead a team call, every week.
- I make certain my team is aware of news, updates and initiatives that impact our company.
- I often ask employees "What do you think?"
- When possible, I delegate greater responsibility, not just more work.
- Every employee I manage has a career track or personal development plan.
- I ensure my employees have the tools and training to do their best work.
- If one of my employees is having a difficult time meeting expectations, we talk about it sooner, rather than later.
- At a minimum, I meet with each of my employees to discuss their development and progress at least twice a year. This time is sacrosanct; I do not miss or re-schedule this time.
- On a regular basis, I catch my employees "doing something right" and praise them for it.
- I remind my employees of their accomplishments that contribute to company profits.
- I address tough subjects head on; I help my employees find solutions to the tough stuff.
- If an employee is failing, I tell them they are failing. We then design a plan for their performance improvement.
- I do not lie to my employees. I answer direct questions appropriately with integrity and candor.
- My employees know they can schedule time with me to discuss whatever they need to discuss; I do not put them off and I do not avoid them.
If you are not doing these things, then you need to ask yourself how you can begin to get better at supervision and human capital management. Your efforts and activities are 50% of any employee's performance. You are up to the task.
Employees will contribute their best work when they believe their efforts are valued. Talented employees will choose to remain with an organization they believe is invested in their future. A talented supervisor or manager can achieve impressive results when the manager-employee contract is honored.
Melissa McDaniel is the Director of Human Resources Consulting for the firm's MKS&H People division. We maximize human capital opportunities for our clients through customized workforce strategy implementation and effective leadership training. For more information on how our human capital experts can create powerful performance drivers for your people and your business, please contact Melissa at 301-662-2400 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org