One of the areas that struck me most was about his methods of performance management. Most of us know about his days at GE where he notoriously ranked his managers and methodically promoted the ones at the top of the list and let go the ones at the bottom of the list. Simple concept, but difficult in practice.
A major part of the process of actually giving feedback to each person "ranked". This appears to be one of the most challenging roles for supervisors - to share honest feedback with their direct reports. Seems kinda strange to me...and as Jack mentions in his post - teachers give students "reviews" in early childhood in the form of report cards, so why can't our managers share feedback to adults? Well certainly, it's a little easier for a teacher to give a grade without having to quantify or validate it in a direct conversation with the student. So that's probably the culprit - the uncomfortable feeling we get sharing feedback face to face. If that is your excuse, here are a few ways to get over the hump:
- Share feedback regularly. By regularly, I mean daily, weekly, monthly. NOT just annually. Once in the habit of regular feedback, employees come to expect it, so their performance likely improves and it becomes easier for you to share your insights.
- Deal with subpar AND stellar performance immediately. If your employee does something stellar, tell them as soon as you can. It will inspire future action in a positive direction. If they do something subpar, share input on that as well and be clear about your expectations in going forward.
- Keep a folder. Put random notes in a file about your employee's performance. Maybe you received a call from a customer about something your employee did? A quick note with the date, a sentence about the situation and specific skills the employee used to "WOW" the client are important items to include. Certainly, tell the employee about it right away, but this "tickler" makes it easy when annual review time comes around. You'll have plenty of qualifications for ratings. This is especially helpful if you have multiple direct reports - we all need memory joggers!