Performance reviews are a necessary waste of time for most managers. A performance review has potential to motivate and build a foundation for success. Unfortunately, performance reviews are done poorly so often that a movement has started against them. Samuel Culbert, Professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management has 10 Reasons to Get Rid of Performance Reviews. In order for a successful performance to be possible, there are a few ingredients that are necessary and also a few things that must be omitted. This article will focus on a performance reviews of sales employees.
First, let’s take a look at what needs to happen before the review even starts. Let’s assume the review is done each month. If this is the case, then information should be gathered all month long. The review cannot be successful if the only information used is a printout of the sales figures and a client contact schedule. There need to be notes with respect to work ethic, special projects, missed opportunities, and general behavior items.
Before the review takes place a manager should review the information and understand why and how the sales figures were produced. Was there a lack of client contact or follow-up? Did the employee have a bad attitude toward clients? Did the employee fail to showcase products for prospective clients? Maybe the employee is unorganized and does not maintain records properly. All of these are potential causes for poor sales figures.
These types of questions should also be asked when an employee meets and exceeds sales expectations. It is possible that a salesperson is simply lucky. A manager should help an employee prepare for success before luck runs out and not wait for an unlucky month before initiating change. In a worst case scenario, an employee with great sales figures might hinder the performance of other employees. Employees that poison the performance of the rest of the staff often go unnoticed because of high sales figures. When performance reviews are done correctly, this type of employee can be uncovered and dealt with so the entire sales team can become stronger.
After this work is done it is time to meet with the salesperson. During the performance review a manager should present the information and findings listed previously. A manager should also ask questions to more deeply understand the situation. It is possible that some information was hidden or went unnoticed in the initial investigation. Managers should be prepared to accept new facts during the review and not have a decision made beforehand.
After the review is complete the level of performance should be clear to both the manager and the salesperson. There should be a list of action items and a signed agreement that the salesperson acknowledges their previous performance and their roadmap for the next cycle. If done correctly, an employee will understand that the manager has a goal for each employee to succeed. An employee should have no reason to argue with a write-up of poor performance or be confused about how to proceed in their future actions.
Here are a few DON’Ts for performance reviews:
- Don’t punish a salesperson for not meeting a goal that was not feasible in the first place.
- Don’t use fear as a motivator. For example: ‘If you do not meet your goal for three months in a row you will be fired.’ That is scary and will not build trust with an employee. This does not work. Read what (insert name) has to say about it here. (insert link.)
- Don’t skip over positive attributes in a hurry to get to action items for next month. It is important to recognize good behaviors so an employee does not feel they are unappreciated.
- Don’t forget that you might be wrong. It’s ok to be wrong. This does not mean you are a bad manager. It means you are listening to what someone else has to say and changing your position.
A review with the qualities mentioned in this article will help build trust with employees and form a sales staff that is excited to perform well. More importantly, this review will help show members of the sales team how to have a successful future. The effort put into preparing for and delivering a useful performance review increases communication with employees and helps sales goals to be achieved.
By genuinely caring about the success of the team and its members, a manager will find that he or she is surrounded by successful people.
If you would like to learn more, here are a few articles that I found helpful.
- Delivering an Effective Performance Review : Rebecca Knight
- Ten Biggest Mistakes Bosses Make In Performance Reviews : Eric Jackson
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review: Examples and tips… : Business Management Daily