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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 January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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