This week, I was talking to the team in what appears to be a very well run firm. I heard the same comments that I hear in virtually every firm. Team members are not getting enough feedback on their performance, and in many instances the only feedback they receive is when a problem arises.
It’s important to understand that team members want regular feedback on their performance. The formal performance review is an important component but it shouldn’t be the only one. Mind you, many firms also struggle to conduct the formal performance review effectively. I’ll write about that in a future note.
What is needed is a mechanism where team members receive quality feedback throughout the year. Personally, I believe that the appropriate time is at the end of every job.
Due to the heavy, unrelenting workload associated with tax and accounting compliance, when a job is completed most firms do not conduct any review of how well the job was done and what could be done in the future to improve. The tendency is to run straight to the next job.
Instead, why don’t you take 10 minutes at the end of each job and sit down with the team member who did the work and conduct a quick review:
- What did we do well? This is the chance to provide positive feedback to the team member.
- What didn’t we do well? This is a chance to provide some constructive feedback as to how the team member could improve. Mind you the answer to this question might also be that the reviewer needs to improve their performance !!
- How can we do the job better next year? For example are there some processes we need to improve?
- How might we get the client better organised in the future so that we can do the work more efficiently?
- What should be the time budget for this job next year? It’s much easier to set the time budget when the work is fresh in your mind.
You could also give the job a mark of 10. What do you think would be the reaction of a team member if their job received a mark of 6 out of 10? Most, I think, would ask what they need to do to get a 7 or and 8. This provides a focus on how we can improve. Some firms are starting to use these scores as a way of assessing performance to assist in promotion assessments and salary review.
Of course the result of these reviews will often be some actions such as reviewing some processes, conducting some training, communicating with the client. A system will need to be implemented to ensure these actions are not lost.
The end result is better feedback to team members with the added benefit of work being organised more effectively in a future.
How often do you review your employee’s performance? Do you have any procedures in place that will provide ongoing reviews?