What should I avoid doing in a performance review?

Mess ups like that clarified for me what I should not try to achieve with a performance review:

  • Not for setting goals – goal setting and tracking is too important to be left to a periodic review.
  • Not for reporting on progress – people should have clear metrics which they track themselves, so their achievements should be obvious without a review.
  • Not for warning about underperformance – if someone is underperforming, you should tell them immediately and not wait for a review.
  • Not for discussion of a person’s weaknesses and how to fix them – people can rarely fix their key weaknesses, so focusing on them is demoralizing.

David Jackson in Getting performance reviews right starts with clarity about the goals

What’s the best way to run a performance review?

So with the reviews I’m about to do now, I have different goals:

  1. Listen. Ask broader questions than you get to ask in the course of a normal day’s work.
  2. Congratulate. Step back, view the big picture, and congratulate someone for what they’ve achieved.
  3. Focus. Once someone has chosen which company to work for, only one thing determines their success. In a review discussion, can you find ways to increase that?

David Jackson in Getting performance reviews right starts with clarity about the goals

What’s the best way to solicit feedback during a yearly review?

Here are the questions I just sent to my direct reports as the first stage of their mid-year review:

  1. What’s the thing you’re best at? How much of your time is spent on it?
  2. Name one thing you don’t enjoy that you’re spending significant time on. How can we eliminate the need for you to do it?
  3. What is your most important work goal, and how should you / we re-organize your time to better achieve it?
  4. Which person in the company do you most enjoy collaborating with? Please give one or two examples of what’s come out of that. What would enable you to spend more time working with that person?
  5. As your manager, how can I make you more successful?
  6. What specific areas of feedback or advice would you like from me?
  7. What’s the one piece of advice you can give me?

David Jackson in How would you feel if you were asked to write a self-evaluation like this?

What’s the best way to keep personal productivity high?

It’s not possible to race between meetings and e-mail all day long, and simultaneously reflect on what all this frenzied activity is accomplishing. [I] offer all of our employees the opportunity to take time away from the office, simply for reflection. All I ask is that they come back afterward and share with their colleagues, in some form, whatever insights they’ve had.

Tony Schwartz in The power of stepping back

(h/t David Jackson in Creating time for reflection)


How can I be an effective manager?

Where employees strongly believed their managers followed through on promises and demonstrated the values they preached were substantially more profitable than those whose managers scored average or lower…No other single aspect of manager behavior that we measured had as large an impact on profits

Tony Simons in The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the Power of Your Word

(h/t David Jackson in One quality in a manager trumps all others)

How can keep up good morale?

While celebrating wins is hard but important, I know from personal experience that founders can be particularly bad at it.  How LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner runs staff meetings was helpful: Weiner also kicks off these weekly staff meetings a bit unconventionally with “wins.” Before delving into metrics or the business at hand, he goes around the room and asks each of his direct reports to share one personal victory and one professional achievement from the previous week.

David Jackson in Celebrating wins starts with staff meetings