Last week, I talked about Servant Leadership and emphasized how servant leaders focus on developing more leaders by seeking to have conversations, even if they are difficult, with all employees. One thing that all leaders may find difficult is developing poor performers. Whether you are dealing with great or poor performers, you should establish development plans with each of your people at least once a year (I advocate for every six months).
Beginning a performance development conversation may be difficult, especially with poor performers, so here is tool to use to start the conversation:
Sample Employee Development Questionnaire
Note that this is a completely separate process than one tied to employee evaluation and any compensation decisions that may be tied to an employee's "official" evaluation. This make the process much less intimidating for both you and the employee and helps you both focus on growth and development, not deficiencies that prohibit pay increases.
Here's how you use it:
1. At a regularly scheduled interval that you choose (semi-annually, annually), hand this questionnaire out to all of your direct reports.
2. Ask them to evaluate themselves and fill out the questionnaire and give them a specific date to return to you.
3. Fill out the questionnaire yourself on each of your subordinates.
4. Collect the the responses from your direct reports and compare your responses to the self-evaulation the employee completed. Make sure you have completed your responses for them BEFORE gathering their responses so your responses will not be influenced.
5. Schedule a time to meet with each of your direct reports (1 hour each) to discuss the development questionnaire.
6. In planning for and implementing your one-on-one development meetings, focus on areas where your evaluation of the employee and the employee's self-evalation differ. For example, if the employee gives himself or herself a 5 in productivity and you gave them a 2, this a good time to discuss how you define productivity and discuss behavioral based changes they can make to improve their performance in that area. At the same time if, for example, your employee gives himself or herself a 1 in technical skills and you gave them a 5, this is time to discuss to brag on the employee, and discuss why they feel deficient in this area.
In addition, another key area to focus on is the question related to charting goals for the employee. If their professional goals are completely different than those you wish the employee to develop, synthesizing your impressions and direction forward is critical.
Here are some other tips for giving feedback.
7. Use the questionnaire and meeting as a time to put a development plan in place with timelines associated with each development goal. This should be put on paper and shared between you and the employee for updating.
8. Don't complete the meeting without scheduling a sit-down time to check progress on the development plan. Depending on the development needs of the direct report, this could be as often as once a week or a infrequent as quarterly.
I think you'll find that if you have a process in place and a template to follow to facilitate a development conversation, it makes it less intimidating to do.
How have you made employee development conversations easy and effective?
Like this post and tool? You may also like the Employee Evaluation Sample as well.