Recently I attended a panel presentation that included an HR representative from a large hospital foundation. This organization is moving towards a coaching-style of management. One of the major decisions they made was to do away with annual performance reviews. The audience audibly and positively reacted to this decision, which is not surprisingly since performance reviews are often dreaded by both managers and staff alike.
Perhaps you are a manager of a fundraising organization that is not quite ready to do away with the performance review altogether. However, you certainly can bring a coaching-style to these reviews and heighten the impact they create. Just remember the three As – Acknowledgement, Asking questions, and Accountability.
Acknowledgement – open the performance review by acknowledging the person and highlighting what you have seen in them over the past year. An acknowledgement is about who a person. For example you might say “Kelly you communicate with donors in a powerful and authentic way and they know you care about their interests.” Or “Dev you took risks this year and I could see you embracing the learning from taking on new projects.” Acknowledgements help people see their unique strengths and allow you to set the stage for growth.
Asking questions – use open ended questions to allow you to learn more about what your direct reports learned during the past year. Ask them what accomplishment they are most proud of and why. Ask them about their greatest failure and what it taught them. Explore what is most exciting to them in the upcoming year. What do they want to learn? What impact do they want to have? What support do they need? Ask these powerful questions and then create the time and space to really listen to the answers.
Accountability – the performance review is a great opportunity for you and your direct reports to create or refine accountability protocols. A simple and powerful way to ensure accountability is to end all meetings with three questions 1) What will you do? (the staff member articulates their commitment in their own words) 2) When will you do it? (they choose a date or set a schedule for the work to be done) and 3) How will you report back? (they confirm how they will report out on their commitments).
These three simple steps can create performance reviews that both managers and team members will view as impactful and important. Just remember the three As – Acknowledgement, Asking questions, and Accountability.