By Patricia Bell, SCORE Mentor and Leadership Development Trainer/Consultant

The beginning of the year brings reflection for business owners and their employees.  Whether you have a large organization or a company of five, everyone wants to know the same thing:

“How did we do last year?”

Take a cue from the sports world and set the tone for improvement by providing the proper coaching needed to finish the year strong. Professional athletes depend on the critical and helpful eye of their coaches to perfect their technique, style and ability to execute with success.

It’s the same in the business world, with your employees depending on your insight and attention to make them your key, franchise players.

Annual Performance Appraisals – Many employees dread the annual performance review discussion, as do many managers.  How do we turn that experience into something positive?

  1. Create an environment of daily, weekly and monthly coaching/employee feedback sessions.
  2. Have clear expectations of what is expected and how you will measure the results for each employee.
  3. Provide employees an opportunity to conduct a self-appraisal to give managers insight about how an employee sees their performance, strengths and areas that need improvement.
  4. Performance appraisal discussions should never be a surprise.  Year round conversations are summarized with a focus of 40%  past performance, 20%  clear expectations and 40%  development plan.

Past Performance – Give employee feedback on results, not effort. In order to have progress, employees need to be held accountable to meeting and exceeding your expectations.

Key item:  Make sure you provide a blueprint for how individual tasks connect to the overall success of your company.  In other words, “Explain the why (it’s important) behind the what.

Clear Expectations – Spend time reviewing the tasks and responsibilities for employees.  Don’t depend on assumptions.  Be specific about what success will look like and how you will quantify and measure results.  Provide employees the time to discuss their questions, concerns and suggestions.

Key item:  Employees should leave the discussion with the understanding of how to evaluate their own results so they can make daily adjustments as needed.

Development Plan – Sometimes your employees are handling things outside of their remit but there may not be a new position for them.  It’s important to discuss ways your employees can grow their skills, knowledge and technical expertise or improve results.  Commit to offering employees an opportunity for personal development and talk about company goals and what employees can do to help accomplish those goals.

Key item: Have employees identify their goals so they have the immediate ownership to achieve the desired improvement.

As business owners, commit to your own professional development, including coaching and feedback skills.  Take the time to make it a priority and it will pay off with improved company performance.

SCORE offers a variety of workshops, tailored to your needs.  Get your calendar and plan to attend at least two workshops

First quarter playbook for business owners