Coaching Managers Through the Performance Review Process – Part 1


When it comes to performance management, how can we improve the coaching component?

In this two-part blog series, we’ll look at how to help support your organization through performance management strategies that work both for the organization and the employees. In part one, we look at performance reviews and the value of training. We’ll see that, when they’re done correctly, they can improve manager effectiveness, employee engagement and overall productivity.

If you are a Human Resources professional, you may have heard these echoing comments from managers throughout your organization:

  1. I don’t know how to initiate a discussion with a bad performer. He/she’s been with the company for a long time.
  2. My employees often rate themselves as above average. Sometimes its just easier to agree with their self-review ratings.
  3. I have an employee on my team who is a super star. What can I do to make sure he/she is rewarded for exceptional performance?

Marsha Moulton, SHRM-SCP and EVP of HR at ACDI/VOCA, an international non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. had this to say about performance reviews: “No one likes performance reviews. They tend to look backward, they’re corrective in focus, tend to use demotivating goals and they’re not valued by managers.”
Performance reviews of the past were exactly as Marsha describes. They were a tool to correct behaviors, point out what went wrong over the past year, and to communicate a salary increase, or not. The entire nature of the traditional performance review created a workplace of managers who would rather jump in a pool of alligators than have an uncomfortable conversation with an employee.
Help has arrived with technology that focuses on future goals that strategically align teams to organizational goals, allow for full visibility of performance, give managers the opportunity to communicate with employees in real-time, and open the door for healthy interaction with staff. When dealing with the uncomfortable subject of unacceptable performance, simply stating that someone has failed to meet performance goals is not enough to change behavior.
Employees need coaching and support to be successful. But we often overlook the importance of coaching our managers. So what can human resources do to assure our managers have all the tools they need to be successful coaches?

Training for Performance Improvement:

Many managers find themselves in positions by means of past successful performance evaluations. They were recognized for excellence and then rewarded by being promoted into a management role. Although some managers are described as “born leaders,” they still require direction and tools to be successful.
The training program you design should help a manager become a more knowledgeable and capable leader. A well trained manager should feel confident when conducting performance evaluations by gaining a better understanding of their own role in the process. Selecting courses to support management competencies should also include an assessment of the managers’ current knowledge and skills. The assessment should not only identify each manager’s gaps but also highlight areas of strength to create a true coaching environment of support.
There are many training providers that offer courses in leadership development. However, there are core components that should be part of every management development program. UC Berkley has created a Supervisor Competency Model, that identifies these core components:
(source: University of California: Berkley)
Human Resources should work with their Learning Development department on the importance of manager training. If you are the one creating a training budget, include courses that promote management competency. Then measure the effectiveness of the training to show the ROI of that department and the overall health of the department’s performance. Real-time performance tools are a great aid in documenting and charting the progress made when managers have the training tools necessary to instill confidence by increasing competency.
Be sure to watch for our next post for the second and final part of this series. If you don’t want to miss it, be sure to subscribe now using the form at the top of this page.
Additionally, you might also be interested some of our other recent posts:

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