Businesses ultimately depend on the success of teams, but performance reviews focus on the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. How do we bridge this gap?
Comparing People is Instinctive
It’s easy for us to draw comparisons when considering a group: he has better hair, her lunch looks tastier, his hat is taller, you’re way scarier. Most performance reviews don’t work this way though - they require us to look at people in isolation, which is a lot harder.
Likewise, “Is Sally a good manager?” is kind of tricky. She might not make people cry on a daily basis, but without a point of comparison how easy is it to tell if she’s good, great or barely making the grade?
Now compare her to the other managers in your team. Where does she fall? First? Last? 3rd out of 8? Simple comparisons are instinctive, coming up with an absolute answer without comparison is much harder.
A review system that allows you to look at people as a group, to see them in their teams and compare them against one another, is easier because it’s closer to the way we naturally work.
The Weakest Link?
If the team members are the links in the chain, then performance management is about finding the weakest link? But removing team context can paint an incomplete picture: a person who doesn’t score well on sales targets or product knowledge might actually be the facilitator who makes her whole team run smoothly. Ultimately it’s the team’s output, not the individual’s, that benefits the organization most.
The Sweet Sting of Peer Feedback
Which hurts more? Your manager telling you you’re a 2, or your team telling you you’ve let them down?
Peer feedback is hugely important. It comes from the people you work closely with every day, not from a manager who might only interact with you once or twice outside of your annual performance review.
Review Team Dynamics, Get Dynamic Teams
Teamwork is dynamic: brainstorming, creativity, innovation and collaboration, all of which can be greatly enhanced (or stymied) by the right mix of people and personality types.
Team-based reviews can help you make the most of those positive group dynamics: it’s easy to see which teams are working like a well-oiled machine, and which need a little emergency (preferably not percussive) maintenance.
We should really try to understand contribution to team dynamics as part of an individual’s review.
Reviewing Teams = No Harder than Reviewing Individuals
1. Use a review system that lets you compare people within teams.
2. Consider team dynamics as part of performance reviews. Measure interpersonal and cooperative competencies as well as team objectives
3. Collect peer feedback. 360 degree programs are great, but so is creating an environment where people give and receive feedback frequently.
4. Enjoy the flow-on benefits of treating teams -as- teams rather than as a bunch of individuals scrabbling for the same limited rewards (more open communication, better working relationships, higher trust levels, increased productivity, improved cohesion... yay!)