Hi everyone,

[b]BLUF: How do proceed to create a successful performance review.[/b]

I am a manager for the product and marketing department for a start up in a dot-com company in the same industry as, a creer resource for recent undergraduates and graduates from Norway with a Business or Technical background.

Our company has, so far, no form for performance reviews. The reason is that the company is young. However, inside the next six to twelve months I will probably hire my first sales reps, and when that happens I want to have an performance review system in place, or at least know how create one.

So, to break up my question;
[list]1. Are there any know processes I should go through to create a performance review system?
2. Are there any books I should read that explains this easily, or that has som groundbreaking idéas in this field that would be recommended?[/list:u]

I believe these are big questions, and I do not expect a complete answer, but if you have a an opinion how to plan and implement it, in the context of the Manager-Tools system, I would appreciate it.

bradleymewes's picture

Listen to the following podcasts from late 2005 early 2006. Take notes on the process. Implement the process Mike and Mark suggest.

As for books to read, if you are a premium subscriber just download the show notes and slides. No need to buy a book on the topic. Anything you need is already contained in these podcasts.

Good luck. I had to create my reviews from scratch as well. I relied 100% on the information herein.


bflynn's picture

There is also this week's podcast, titled "Annual Reviews and compensation, Part 1". I presume part 2 will follow on Monday.

As to books, one that sticks in my mind is "Job Analysis at the Speed of Reality" by Darin Hartley. This is a little bit of a tangent because the book is about about figuring out what people really do in jobs, targeted toward writing job descriptions. But one of the reasons you do job descriptions is to have targets for performance. In other words, the question isn't really "how do I do start a performance review", but "what is needed for a performance review to be successful." One of the key items is clarity in the job expectations. That clarity is frequently gained from the job description.

Once you really understand the job, you want to understand how that job maximizes value in the company and what the drivers are for the job. Those items go into the job description and are the principle metrics you want to measure and review on.

I'm not recommending the JASR method for implementation, although it isn't entirely a bad process. I do think that understanding that method leads to a great understanding of HR processes, which we all need as managers. And in the process of the understanding, you're going to understand what you need to develop a great performance review system.

Oh, and if you're looking to hire in the next year, you probably want a job description anyway.


bradleymewes's picture


That is a very good point you bring up about job descriptions. I just spent 3 and a half hours with one employee who was not happy with her review. When we started drilling down into the reasons she was not happy with it we discovered her job description was very vague and that she really had no specific measurements. The interesting thing is that she got a relative positive reveiw but she was completely devistated about it because she was expecting a perfect review. We drilled down into the specifics of her responsibilities e.g. resposnible for managing quick and friendly service vs customer turnaround time of 20 minutes or less, customer satisfaction surveys of 90% or higher, one thank you letter received about your service a quarter. By doing so we laid the groundwork for our next reveiw and I am very much looking forward to sitting down 3 months from now to see where we are at.


WillDuke's picture
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I wrote up job descriptions a couple of years ago. (We're a small company, 8 people.) What a waste of time. :) Now that we have weekly O3s we're discussing performance constantly. Nobody's surprised by anything. That's the beauty of the O3, especially when mixed with feedback, everyone knows exactly how well they're doing all the time.

tlhausmann's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

[quote="WillDuke"]I wrote up job descriptions a couple of years ago. (We're a small company, 8 people.) What a waste of time. :) Now that we have weekly O3s we're discussing performance constantly. Nobody's surprised by anything. That's the beauty of the O3, especially when mixed with feedback, everyone knows exactly how well they're doing all the time.[/quote]


BLUF: Follow the advice of manager tools. Prepare yourself to do a great deal of work the first time through.

I made sure position descriptions were all up-to-date (sorry willduke ;-)). I made sure everyone knew what was expected from them to prepare for their annual reviews (documenting accomplishments). I also took M&Ms advice on the SEER writing style for annual review write-ups. Very helpful...and after the first few reviews the writing technique got easier.

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

No need to be sorry to me. I heard Mark say I didn't need them. :) But I think that was specifically for the small business.

bradleymewes's picture


I did the same thing a while back. Until I started doing quarterly reveiws they were a complete waste of time. By the time a year had come around and I tried to doing an annual reveiw the job description was so outdated, irrelevant, or just plane inaccurate that they provided no value to me. In the past few months I made a commitment to get all the job descriptions up to date, one at a time. I am seeing a payoff now as I am implementing the first quarterly reviews right now. They really allowed me to take a very objective veiw of the review process with my people.

One of the things with One on Ones is that I find it relatively easy to get stuck in down in the weeds. I tend to talk about the day to day issues that come up. 30 minutes does not provide a lot of time for me to take a look at the big picture. However, when I scheduled 90 minutes for a review, that gave me plenty of time to focus on the bigger picture with my directs while still giving them specific feedback.

Just my $.02

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

I certainly wouldn't argue against the need for a review process separate from the O3. I'm just saying that the ongoing O3 makes the review process very simple. The direct already knows how they're doing, you have notes to use for the review.

I know what you mean about getting a little perspective on things. It is easy to never get past the day-to-day issues with O3s. I have to make a concerted effort to remember the coaching part of the O3 to make sure everyone gets all of the development the want.

Being a small company, we have to reach beyond the job description. I don't know that this would be true for a large organization, but here there's just no way for them to take into account everything that needs to be addressed. Things just change too fast. :)

bradleymewes's picture

Understood. We are 20 people here and I have a team of 4 who report directly to me. Oftentimes job duties and job descriptions don't dovetail perfectly. :D

In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of my job is to balance the work load with work force. Because we are so small just one extra person can be the difference between profitability and fruitlessness.

I am sure you are all too familiar with that conundrum!


bflynn's picture

My experience is that job descriptions becomes necessary only as companies grow larger. If you're small enough to gather the entire company in your break room, then your probably don't need something written down right now.

I've been a part of three different companies that grew larger. In each case, it seemed that job descriptions were needed when the total company size exceeded about 300. I don't know if there is something magical about that size, but after having seen it happen three times, I wonder about it.