Why do we do a periodic review meeting? Is it needed? Is it relevant?
A basic definition of a review meeting could be ‘An opportunity to review performance, a specific process, or strategy’
As one can see from the above definition a periodic review meeting can have advantages both tangible and intangible like Improvement in processes, guidance to team members, a clear action plan for the coming months, and last but not the least boosting of team morale.
A review meeting consists of 3 major parts-
1. Review of data – Looking back
2. Analysis of the same to pinpoint concern areas
3. Action plan for the coming months – Forward Looking
Is one part more important than the other? I don’t think so – each part is an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle and together they can reveal a recipe for success.
As managers, we must remember that reviewing people is both a science and an art. There is no one-stop SOP for the same but there are certain thumb rules that all review meets must-have.
Let us know the Thumb Rules to be followed during these important meetings.
Though every review meet is unique and there can be no standard SOP, there still exists some thumb rules to ensure a great review. As a reviewer we must ensure the following:
1. Communication has to be clear and crisp – people, in general, have short attention spans, A lengthy discourse on any one point will ensure that the attention of the team wavers and the point has lost its meaning.
2. Connecting the dots – Typically if the reviewers are not having much experience at analysis, they would put up observations and not analysis. It’s the reviewer’s job to ensure that the data points are connected and a picture emerges from it.
3. Drawing up clear action plans – The end of a review always has to be forward looking and hence giving clear directions to each reviewee is a MUST. Without this the entire review becomes an exercise in number crunching and analysis.
Objectivity: Last but not the least would be objectivity on the part of the reviewer to not get personal. This one point would set the tone of the review meeting and also the morale of the team when it leaves the meeting.
I remember when my superiors used to announce a ‘Brand Review’ for the Product Management Team.
The general reaction was to roll eyes and look at each other bonded together in common misery.
One huge reason for this reaction was the number of formats to be filled for the brand after brand – so much so that we laughingly said we worked in ‘Formatceuticals’ rather than ‘Pharmaceuticals’.
That led me to become a very cautious head of Marketing while designing formats for review. Consequently, my team never feared the review at least regarding the number of formats.
As a reviewer it is important for us to know the data but more important to know the ‘Important’ data – hence designing formats for a review meet needs time and the ability to be clear and crisp. Many times we end up asking our teammates to key in the same data across sheets – this is what leads to frustration at the reviewee’s end.
Some tips while creating formats for review
1. Write down important data points that are critical for review
2. Make the formats clear, crisp, and easy to analyze
3. Avoid duplication
4. Avoid getting loads of data for data’s sake
5. Try to review the earlier formats used and see if they are still relevant (Most review format sets are being used across years without any change)
REVIEW MEETS – Objectivity!
The very idea of going to a review meet sends chills down people’s spines!
And why is that?
One of the definitions of a review meeting is – ‘A formal assessment in which a manager evaluates an employee’s work performance, identifies strengths and weaknesses, offers feedback, and sets goals for future performance. Reviews are also called performance appraisals or performance evaluations.
Then why the feelings of apprehension or fear or even loathing to attend such meets???
One of the prime reasons is the lack of objectivity from the reviewer’s end. We as humans tend to get personal. Maybe it’s not the intent of the manager to be so but the comments or feedback given can sound personal and therefore hurt.
Reviewers have a great responsibility in ensuring that the reviews are formal, fair, and most importantly absolutely objective with no personal bias. This is easier said than done – however one point that we all could do better to remember and practice while being a reviewer is that we should critique the data rather than be a critic of the person being reviewed.
Once both the reviewee and reviewer understand this the review meets would lose the edge of fear and rather be a meeting to look forward to.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
I remember being a reviewee in the initial stage of my career. My typical “Analysis” used to be – Brand ‘Y’ has grown by 20% whereas my Brand ‘X’ has grown only by 10%. The reason for the same is that Regions 1.2 3. & 4 grew only by 1% each.
I laugh about this now – a classic rookie mistake of mistaking Observations for Analysis. As I grew in my career and worked across organizations, I realized I was not alone and what was more surprising was that few experienced people were making the same mistake too.
I guess I was lucky to have reviewers who asked me the most important question – WHY?
Observation is the evidence and the question ‘Why?’ leads us to dig and come up with Analysis.
From clear and correct analysis, we can derive action plans to help our team run towards the magic word – Success
However, ‘Connecting the Dots’ is easier said than done. It’s a complex multistep process but a rewarding one once mastered.
Written by: Zena D’souza