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Leadership-Tools Newsletter: Preparing Annual Reviews
February 15, 2017

Prepare Annual Reviews for
Improved Performance

Once again it's that time of year when leaders are preparing to deliver annual reviews to their team members.

In this edition, we'll discuss how to ensure your annual review process provides substantive feedback, which supports team members and enhances their future performance.

Additionally, we'll share a review on the new book Life Word, which teaches leaders how to identify their purpose for the coming year in a single word.

Let's dive in...

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Prepare and Deliver Meaningful Annual Reviews

The annual review process is a great opportunity for leaders to send a very positive message to their employees.

It's a time when leaders can effectively shine a light of praise and appreciation upon the employee; recognizing the significant contributions that were achieved over the past year.

The best leaders also come well prepared to offer helpful advice in areas where the employee can benefit from additional focus or development.

Unfortunately, too many managers dread the process of preparing and delivering annual reviews. They procrastinate until the very last minute, and even then they don't come prepared or make any real effort to leverage the engagement for the benefit of the employee or the organization.

When such limited interaction happens during an annual review, it's not just unfortunate - it should be considered nothing less than "Leadership Malpractice."

The primary reason so many annual reviews are poorly executed is because the conversation is only required once per year.

A lot happens over the course of a year. So, unless you have a simple process in place for capturing key achievements made throughout the year, you're bound to forget mentioning some key contributions.

When annual reviews only cover more recent activities, an employee may perceive you as, at best - unprepared, or at worst - uncaring.

In an effort to help leaders avoid this common pitfall, we've updated our Performance Appraisal tool.

Using our fully customized performance appraisal form, you can use the same form for your quarterly and annual performance discussions. This approach ensures that you hold valuable discussions with your employees more often and never lose track of an employee's most significant achievements.

Performance Appraisal Tool - Best Practice Tips:

  1. Take time to establish clear and measurable goals, which both parties agree are achievable. Use our customized form to track your employee's progress throughout the year.
  2. Review the list of behaviors/competencies listed on the form. Use only the ones that pertain to the job description. Be sure to include competencies that are measurable. These are easier to explain since the numbers are real. For areas that are more subjective in nature, be prepared to provide 2-3 solid examples to back up your rating.
  3. Communicate to your employee that you are committed to their success. Demonstrate this by being prepared to offer suggestions, coaching and/or training opportunities to support your employee in addressing areas where improvement is needed.
  4. At the end of your conversation, ask the employee if there is anything that he/she needs from you? Attempt to learn if there is anything you could be doing more of, less of, or differently that could better support the team.

    Be open to any feedback. It's good for your people to know that you realize that everyone can improve in their performance. This can go a long way to gain trust and credibility as the leader.
  5. Lastly, BE CONSISTENT. The worst thing you can do is to establish an expectation of having reviews more often, but not following through.

For a full review of how to conduct Performance Appraisals, read Six Steps to Performance Appraisals

By adopting this process of conducting quarterly performance reviews that supports the annual review, you will increase the level of communication and performance. Most importantly, you'll earn a greater level of respect from your team.

If you're not already doing this, NOW is the perfect time to start.

Personal Goal Setting in One Word

If you've been following our newsletter over the past few months, you know we've spent a lot of time on the subject of goal setting.

As a quick recap, the following tools are available for you to identify and complete goals in key life categories.

Step One: Complete the Life Balance - Success Wheel tool to identify and rate yourself in your most important life categories.

Step Two: Use the free Master Action Plan (M.A.P.) tool to break your goals down into actionable projects and tasks, which answer the questions of How Much, Of What, By When, and By Whom?

Step Three: As discussed in our last edition, create your Vision Board for added focus on your goals. Stay motivated by keeping your goals front and center.

NEW Step Four: Check out our latest review on the new book, Life Word.

Written by Jon Gordon, Jimmy Page and Dan Ritton, Life Word is a powerful little book that is well worth your time.

In Life Word, you'll discover how to identify the one word that will define your life in the coming year. Your life word will be your partner, guide and mentor as you work through each of your personal and professional goals.

The process is simple, yet highly effective.

The Life Word exercise is one more tool you can leverage to remain squarely focused on your most important goals and objectives.


Access all five volumes of The Leadership Series for Successful Living.

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