How to Use Performance Reviews to Anchor in Your Culture


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Each year I sit in on performance reviews for my team. I choose to sit in on every review from the top leadership team all the way down to the newest employee. Some of my friends who run their own companies ask me, “Why would you do that? Shouldn’t you be doing something more important?” or,  “Shouldn’t this be delegated to the managers of these teams?”

Yes, I could delegate this task. I have the upmost faith in my management team that they would be able to handle these in a very professional way. But, I do not think there is anything more important than connecting with your team. They are delivering your product or service to your customers and if you do not invest in them directly it will affect service eventually.

Here are a few reasons why I sit in on every performance review:

  • It gives me the ability to reconnect with some employees who I do not work directly with.
  • It allows each employee to have some individual time with me so I can hear what he or she is looking to achieve in our company and personally.
  • I get very important feedback from the front lines as to how we are delivering our services.
  • I get direct feedback from the team as to how we can improve based on customer feedback that may not roll up to me.

Sitting in on every performance review gives me the opportunity to reinforce the culture of our company and how it flows through everything we do.

We initially created our culture focus points over a year ago, but I feel that as the leader of our company I did not do a good job reinforcing these points other than reading them off the wall where we had them painted or by referring to the individual cards we handed out to employees that had the values printed on them.

After discussing this with my executive coach (every leader needs one) I decided to take my own advice from a previous article and looked at this issue through the eyes of a consultant.

Creating a Culture Starts With Determining Your Values

I took some time to think what I wanted our culture to be. I wanted to make sure that I did not get bogged down on what our values were- there is a subtle difference- so I focused on the qualities I was looking for in our employees. Once I settled on the following four qualities I shared them with my executive team to see if we were missing any that should be included. We tweaked a few but for our company we ultimately came up with these traits that embrace what we want for our culture:

  • Self Motivation
  • Flexibility
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability

Reinforce Your Culture at Every Chance

So now my challenge was to find a way to integrate these into our employees’ mindsets and not fall back to these traits just being words on a piece of paper or a wall. I chose performance reviews to be my opportunity.

I spoke to my operations manager and challenged her to implement these four points into the reviews in a way that we could reference them during our time with each employee.

What we are doing is focusing our discussion of results, goals and expectations within the framework of these four traits. If someone achieved certain results, we now discuss how that supports one or more of our culture traits. If someone did not achieve this, we talk in terms of how this is not supporting our culture.

Additionally, our management team now focuses on these traits in any day-to-day discussions with employees. My goal is that by focusing on these traits every time the opportunity arises, it will reinforce these aspects of our culture and help us to continue to grow into the company we want to be.

We are also now using these culture points in our hiring process. We focus on these traits just as much as, or more than, skill sets. I believe I can teach skills but these culture points are characteristics that new employees would have to bring to the table themselves.

What I hope you take away from this is that having beautiful wall art or posters displaying your culture points does not mean your team is living them. Make your culture a living and breathing thing. Find every opportunity to reinforce the traits you have chosen for your company; performance reviews may be a great place to begin.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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