Stop, connect, measure, communicate and align your team for the next period.

We hit the middle of the year with a thud, and a scratch of the head that asks “where did the last 6 months go?”. We started the year fresh and filled with hope.

Now we are starting to see the team lag with the fatigue of the last 6 months of onslaught, and the knowledge that for many the next holiday period is still 6 months away (although it should only be about two months before the decorations hit the stores!).

As a manager, this is a crucial time of the year to stop, connect, measure, communicate and align your team for the next period.

There are differing thoughts around how regular you should be doing performance reviews. Some say ditch them completely, others are advocates for very-regular ‘check-in’ type reviews.

In my experience, I think every six months sits about right, but this is dependent on the depth of the conversation and frequency of communication with team members.

On a construction site feedback is much more instant as quantity of work and build quality is a daily assessment. By comparison to an office or corporate environment where people are working on long-term projects that only have incremental measurement over weeks.

Where I see managers often go wrong is they often don’t give the importance of the process the same amount of effort and respect as the employees do. If you are a manager who can’t find the time to talk with your staff at least once every six-months, I will tell you straight out – you aren’t managing well. I don’t mean just running over the current tasks or project statuses that they are working on, or giving a quick line about ‘we will invest in your development’ and then sending them back to their dungeon.

I mean ‘real talk’!

The power is in the discussion. Performance review forms and online tools are only there to help facilitate and document the conversation, not substitute it.

Never under-estimate the personal time between manager and employee for building relationships, agreeing on directions and then ‘getting shit done!’ – together!

Let’s get in and really understand the motivators of the person, what is it that keeps them coming through the doors every morning. You may be surprised on the little things that mean a lot to employees. Pride in doing a good job and some private recognition go along way and are often top among our surveyed elements.

Are they happy?

A quick assumption is that happy employees are productive employees, and productive employees are profitable employees.

But what is behind their mask?

Don’t just accept the first answer, probe deeper with genuine interest and authenticity. Expose a bit of your own story as a means to generate and build trust in the relationship and then really listen to what they are saying. Do not push it, otherwise it could be seen as ‘creepy’ and have you crossing the line between decency or excess.

You can also think of this in line with your employee net-promoter score (eNPS) – evaluate what they are saying about the company, when surrounded by their trusted peers.

This impacts the reputation of both the company’s and yours as a manager.

Use the mid-year performance review to measure performance to this point. Your team will be wanting to know how they are going, and as a manager you should be able to quantify their performance or Year-To-Date progress. Give this feedback and set the agenda for the coming months. Don’t be afraid to use this time to talk about effort and outcomes and if they need to press harder on the gas pedal and accelerate, tell them!

Many times, I deal with managers and employees who have previously been super-stars – but have seemingly come off the boil and the results are not where they should be. The right thing is to have the tough conversation now. Past glories do not pay todays bills. Each employee needs to ensure their contribution to the company is profitable.

This is the time to realign them with the expectations on the business before your (and their) frustrations grow. When setting individual performance expectations for the coming review period, be it 6 months or one-year, ensure you start form the macro-goal and cascade these to each individual.

Words such as OKR’s or KPI’s are often used interchangeably but may miss the gravity of the message if not delivered in a dedicated forum. Start at the top, and then flip the conversation round to link individual performance to company success.

As a manager in preparation for the discussion with your team member you should at least have the following clearly known.

  • What is the goal. What is the strategy to get there?
  • What do each department need to deliver?
  • What do the individuals need to achieve?
  • How will they achieve this?
  • Tell them what have they personal achieved.
  • Report on the team progress.
  • Tell them how this has contributed to the company performance.

Inherently, employees want to know what needs to be done. Your job as a manager is to clearly articulate this and give them functional instructions of what to do and how to get there. Paint the picture for them so that they can see success and make yours and their job easier to manage them through this next period.

Some tools to enable this consists of clear vision, mission and value statements; organisational charts to ensure clear communications and delegation lines are known; outcome profiles that focus on results and not task achievement; Performance review frameworks that gives real and rewarding feedback; and rewards and incentive calculators that ensure top performers are recognised.

If you don’t have these structures in place, ask the wattsnext team how we integrate HR frameworks giving you the ability to stop, connect, measure, communicate and align your team for the next period. We love doing this and know how this multiplies business results.


Photo by Adam Jang

Author: wattsnext Group
The wattsnext Group blog is a compilation of ideas and expertise from the entire team, past and present with a few added gems from guest authors from time to time. With this collaborative approach, we can provide you with a broader perspective and high-level expertise across the small business landscape.