Ten ways to make sure that you and your staff members get the most from every 1 to 1 / appraisal that you conduct in your business:
1. Quality Document
Take your time to make sure you either complete the Company Appraisal / One to One document well. Sounds obvious but it can be tempting to 'wing it' or just have a bunch of performance stats to rely on... Whether hand written or typed make it look great, spell things correctly, use good grammar - show in the content that you have taken time to think about the staff member in detail; make it not just about performance numbers, mistakes and a motivational chat - they will feel special if you have taken time to make the document unique and detailed for them. If you don't use a standard document then:
A. Think about introducing one; they work!
B. Make sure your notes are detailed, accurate and in your hand when you start...again show the staff member that this is as important to you as it is to them..
2. Right Time / Right Place
Yes you are busy and have a schedule to be aware of but try and make the meeting happen at a time and in place when the staff member will be at their most at ease and responsive. Are they a morning person? Are they best on a Monday or a Friday? Would they benefit from a coffee down the street or a formal meeting room in the office? And back to the theme of making them feel special and combining that with being professional and efficient; get there on time every time - it sets standards and shows the staff member that they matter.
There is a need to strike a balance between being time effective, organised and professional and simply rushing because you have lots to do; messages need to be heard and absorbed - saying what you want to say is important but it is so much more important that you are heard and understood. Saying things that are important slowly and deliberately means they will be heard, repeating them in the summary means they will be remembered. Making the staff member feel special and important is crucial and taking the time and using the time you have to its maximum will help.
It is essential that the staff member agrees with the performance targets set. There must be a contract between you; saying that something will happen is not a guarantee that it will - contracting between you that it will happen, how and when is a much better bet. Getting them to repeat and confirm what has been agreed and you being able to interpret how they say it and whether they mean it is crucial. So what we have agreed is....do you understand what we have agreed....so I can note that you have committed to...make them say yes and challenge them if it does not sound convincing!
5. Reading the situation
This kind of meeting is not just about your 'script' and making sure you have said everything - it is about the staff member hearing you and responding and then between you agreeing what happens next. It is easy to follow a form and impose your needs and wants but looking for and responding to body language and clues in their verbal responses will allow you to make sure the important things get said, the performance improvements are accepted and agreed and things change. Be prepared to go away from your plan if you need to, collect information and if necessary return to the meeting later when you have thought it through.
Don't expect the staff member to get excited and passionate about the meeting content if you aren't. Use your hands, eyes, voice and body language to inspire, emphasise, underline and where needed to enforce your opinions. A flat monotonous tone is less likely to be remembered than an upbeat, energised and passionate one. Match passionate words to passionate actions to be authentic, believed and remembered.
If the culture of the business is informal and it clearly works day to day that is awesome but sometimes using more formal language emphasises a point and tells the staff member 'I mean business, this is serious stuff.' Mixed in with a friendly and informal overall style this kind of 'serious moment' will be remembered and taken seriously because you have taken the trouble to make sure it is and in a way that is very clearly manager to staff member and not 'matey'. Choosing words that reflect this is also important - clear business like language, being clear, specific and professional again means no room for misunderstandings...
8. Listening Skills
Achieving a balance between talking and listening is crucial. Asking open questions that provoke opinion and information is key. 'How do you think you have performed?' 'Do you agree?' and then listening, really listening rather than accepting the first vaguely positive answer and concluding that everything is ok. People often offer clues and don't say what they mean unless you ask them more questions. Also listen for the way they answer not just what they say. Is there enthusiasm, clarity and positivity in their answer? If not ask another question; get to the bottom of it - don't let problems bubble under when they can be talked through, it will only come back to haunt you when they under-perform, fail or leave. Look for the 'help me' clues, excuses, 'I suppose' and I am saying yes but mean probably not type answers - really listen and be brave enough to go away from your script to get to the issue.
9. Arguing the Company Corner
Siding with the staff member about back logs, pressure, staffing issues or other managers is completely fruitless and dangerous; you are just fuelling future excuses. Whilst of course showing that you do understand that outside factors can influence their performance actually validating their excuses means that those reasons will mean under performance in future because you said they would! Put them in perspective and offer ways to overcome them. Use management vocabulary, talk from a company perspective rather than that of a staff member and draw on your experience make it clear you are not their ally in explaining failure but instead that you are the companies representative who will help them overcome influencing factors - this is really important!
10 . Partnership
The ability to create the manager / staff member partnership is key. It is necessarily unequal, you get to have the final say and it is to taken seriously but it can also be an 'us' thing; 'How are we going to overcome this?' - using your experience and offering support can make a huge difference to the staff member; the impossible can feel possible and a team thing develops that can get them through but you can never over play this or you share their personal responsibility to perform.
1 to 1 meetings can be the most useful tool in any managers skill set and done well they really can have a bottom line impact. Never be tempted to blame their efficacy on anything other than yourself because when prepared, considered, executed well and with respect and sensitivity then they will work!
Consortio offer cost effective help to businesses without experience in 1 to 1 or Appraisal processes to develop something to suit them and their people and we also offer your managers training based on the above advice and our extensive experience in getting the most from this precious time...contact us for more information! consortio~live.com www.consortio-uk.com
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