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Conducting great performance reviews

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Wed Sep 02 2009

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Even though I do my job pretty well and I have a great relationship with my manager, I dread that annual performance review. It just gives me an icky feeling: now it's time to talk about stuff that's not going well, or to listen to feedback about how I can do better. Even positive feedback makes me feel a little squirmy and embarrassed. So it's not something I look forward to. In terms of how I improve as a performer, it frequently leads to a lot of short-term activity surrounding the review (sort of like that short-term activity surrounding those New Year's resolutions), which then tapers off until work settles down to the usual. (Basically this sort of curve is true for a lot of activities that we do to improve performance; think about training: you attend a training event, when you are done you do lots of things to try to apply it, and then things slowly settle down again. Maybe a few things stick, but a lot goes by the wayside and isn't that frustrating?)

Anyway, back to the performance review: I guess that I am not alone in feeling pretty uncomfortable about the annual review. I certainly know that Jeffrey and Linda Russell, authors of Ultimate Performance Management, a new book that addresses just this topic, do. So they came up with a solution, a new way to approach to managing performance that goes way beyond the annual check-the-box performance review. They came up with the Great Performance Management Cycle and the concept of performance coaching conversations. These are ongoing processes that enable employees like me to get better and better at their jobs and allow managers like my awesome boss (I know, I am totally sucking up, aren't I?) to get better and better results from their people.

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I am not going to explain this cycle though, I am going to let the authors do it themselves in the sample chapter that's available on their book webpage. Now, this sample chapter is unusually long and I argued with myself a while before putting it up there, but I think the contents are really interesting while the real value of the book is in the application_. Ultimate Performance Management_ provides everything you need to know to assess, implement, and train people on this way of improving people's performance. You get all you need to be able to put on five workshops, including learning activities, tools, handouts, training instruments, as well as processes and procedures. This is a book that has real potential to improve the ways that people work, so check out the sample and see what you think.

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