How to get managers to check-in beyond annual performance reviews

For many organisations the end of the calendar year is performance review or annual appraisal time. It may instead be time for the six-monthly review or ‘half-time’ review depending on how your year falls.

In some ways calendar-driven reviews of this nature are in place to take account of our worst managers! The ones who, without a process that has to be complied with, won’t sit down for a meaningful review with their team member. Our good managers were always regularly checking in with people and the formal process is almost a cut and paste for them.

The trick then is to also have managers carrying out 121s on a regular basis, if and when needed with their people and not just when the once or twice a year trigger beckons. This can be encouraged in three practical ways:

  • If powerful performance or development objectives have been agreed then managers will want to have those regular 121s to review them. By the way, I don’t mean the ‘carry on doing what you’re already doing’ objectives or the subjective, vague, buzzwordy ones like ‘effectively engage with X’!.

  • Focus your managers on thinking about the over and underperformers and then asking themselves ‘what am I doing with them?’. The fear of losing good people and the time-consuming frustration of managing poor people can often prompt a more regular check-in.

  • Managers don’t want ‘nasty’ surprises from their people. Regular 121s can help managers nip issues in the bud and even asking the question now and again ‘How am I doing as your boss?’ to the team may yield interesting responses and an awareness the manager may not have had previously.

How are you encouraging regular 121s/check-ins?

Check out:

Painless 121s/Performance Reviews for Overnight Results!

Reimagine performance reviews with ‘Chinwag’: Flexible conversations without the admin – on an if and when need basis

Stream the webinar: 5 mistakes managers make with performance reviews and what to do instead