WHEN A LINE MANAGER TALKS TO A DIRECT REPORT WHAT DO THEY HOPE TO ACHIEVE?
The weight of evidence and direction of travel in recent years has been away from the annual appraisal. The picture forming being that they just don’t add value and in-fact may even act to demotivate performance!
The conversation therefore would benefit from being reshaped to answer the question “what is the conversation for?” The answer is;
- To help both the manager and report to understand what is being contributed and how this compares to what’s achievable and indeed required
- To support the report and act as a motivational tool
- To identify skills gaps and learning needs
- To explore the workplace experience and agree adjustments to systems and practices so that performance can be enhanced
To achieve this the process must be jointly owned, each must feel they can gain value from the process and ideally that the value is at least equal to the other. Secondly that any learning experiences are centred on aligning with the organisational goals and reward is reflected as a consequence of achievement but in a fair and equitable way following reflection of the contributions made (thus avoiding the transactional nature of agreeing up-front the reward and the report working towards the reward).
A SIMPLE PROCESS TO FOLLOW
I offer you a process to follow based on globally recognised good practice and aimed at getting back to the heart of great motivational conversations.
On a quarterly basis ask the team member to ask for feed-back on their performance from a few trusted co-workers within the team and how they’ve contributed to achieving the team goals. This should be recorded in a written report. The questions to be answered are quite simple;
- What are your observations about my contribution towards achieving team goals?
- What would you like me to do more of or differently?
- Where do you think I should focus on in terms of performance and learning?
You, during your conversation with the report will ask a series of structured questions;
- What has gone well for you in the last 3 months?
- What hasn’t gone as you planned and hoped for?
- What did you learn from these experiences?
- How are you going to apply that learning in the future to enhance performance?
- Do you have any targets in mind for performance and learning goals?
- How do you think performance should be measured against the targets?
- What support do you require of me, your manager and others?
Prior to the structured conversation the report will be required to share the document they generated with you the manager. They may not include all of the feedback they’ve been given but that is for them to decide.
Your role is to ensure you jointly review the report document and add your own comments on;
- How motivated the report is to achieve team and individual goals
- What the future looks like if the goals are achieved
- What the future may look like if the goals are exceeded
- The meaning achieving the goals has to the overall team and organisational plans
- What support you as the manager are willing to commit to the individual report to achieve the goals
- What you feel are the potential derailers and how you feel it is best to manage them to best effect using collaboration with others and weekly monitoring as key tools to avoid them
On a weekly or possibly a monthly basis you will arrange a check-in on progress, this may just be a walk by the reports work-station for an informal chat or more formal as you see fit. At least annually you will get the whole team together in a workshop environment to unpack performance against goals set. It is here you will determine as a collective if the team has delivered on intended goals and how the team can be more effective going forward.