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Everyday Performance Reviews

Everyday Performance Reviews

I have written about and talked about the need to reinvent Annual Performance Reviews pretty often, and I’m not alone in doing so. Still, the discussion rages on, and there continues to be much talk and not enough action when it comes to improving the processes associated with them. Annual Performance Reviews remain a staple of workplaces everywhere.

My latest short and sweet advice has been this: If you have to do them, and for some valid reason can’t reinvent them, at the very least make the best out of them. Do your due diligence, be honest and be consistent with the process so it has integrity, but dispense with it as quickly and as expeditiously as you can, making the experience as positive as possible for the person reviewed. Frame the discussion forward and not backward.

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By “expeditious” I don’t mean you cut corners and disrespect the person you are reviewing; I mean for you to make quick work of the archaic, sacred cow, can’t remember why we even do this parts of the annual review process which leave you tongue-tied, simply annoy everyone and have little to no redeeming quality: Stop belaboring the motions you don’t believe in and aren’t equipped to handle well.

However, the reality is that you still will hate to do them, and you will probably still hate receiving them, unless you add some value to the process.

Second, it is only in adding value to the process elsewhere, at the right time, and in managing well, that you truly can achieve the “expeditious” and “positive experience” part of my advice.

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Plain and simple, when you are a manager, you have to work on reviewing and taking action with the performance of those you manage virtually every single day, and not just annually or semi-annually. Folks, that’s what management is, and it’s your whole job.

What you’ve got to do, is turn annual performance reviews into everyday performance reviews.

Let’s consider a few of your opportunities:

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    First the Daily 5 Minutes: Bar none, THE single best management practice I know of.
    Every single time someone makes a mistake, because for you, mistakes provide opportunities for learning and coaching.
    Every time you assemble a project team, by conducting interviews of those who want to be part of the gig, and setting some inspiring goals with them.
    With every debrief after a project, change initiative, or mission comes to fruition — or fails, so you can talk about how to “fail forward.”
    When you mentor with personal and professional mission statements. Said another, less formal way, having right-timed discussions in the vein of “Tell me again why you here, and what lights your fire when you’re here. Let’s do more of that!”
    Once each year, you can interview your “old timers” just as you do candidates for hire. Their lives have changed, and their dreams probably have too; how current are you on their news?
    With counseling and discipline as soon as it’s called for, because you are always on the alert for the damage which can be caused with tacit approval.
    With management by walking around and following through to the nth degree, because you are determined that no one will ever say you don’t honor your word and walk your talk. Hence, you walk into opportunities for on-the-spot performance coaching all the time, and you seize them.
    Every time you share with employees how a customer feels, what a customer expects, and how a customer dreams, because customers continually talk to you about your staff and how they impress them (or don’t).
    Every time you hold a meeting because your meetings are about rigorous, “this stuff counts” engaging dialogue, where whole-team performance is talked about all the time because everyone wants excellence.
    Every time you catch someone doing something right, and you start cheering and celebrating about it, because you want to call attention to the great wins you need repeated by everyone.
    Every time you shift roles, recast, and experiment with new energy applied to processes starting to slide into complacency and mediocrity, because those things aren’t gonna happen; not on your watch. You know what your people are good at, and when they’re in their strengths zone, and that’s where you work with them— always.

Lots and lots of everyday opportunities abound. I’m sure you can think of more.

Consider this: If you coached an employee about some part of their performance for just 5 minutes every single week, you’d be giving them the equivalent of a 4 and a half hour annual performance review. And the one you have to officially turn into the HR office at annual review time? You and that employee would be so in sync, and their performance will be so off the charts, it will take you all of 15 minutes tops.

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Article References:
Adding Value to Performance Reviews
5 Questions for your Performance Appraisals
The Daily 5 Minutes

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: The Leader as Kipuka (Create your Kipuka, Part II).

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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