Establish root causes
Once you've established the key metrics and analyzed them, the next (and core) step is to identify the root causes of both success and failure.
So Harry hit 124% of his target revenues for the quarter. Good boy, Harry, but the 2 key questions are 'Why?' and 'How can we repeat this?'. Did Harry find a sweet price point that we should communicate to other team members? Or maybe he tweaked the sales process to be more upfront about a specific product benefit that brought the results?
Here's Jane, whose customer satisfaction score decreased 12% over the quarter. Not good. But the 2 key questions are 'Why?', and 'How can we fix it?'. Perhaps Jane was snowed with service calls from a spectacularly good previous quarter - so we need to find a way to avoid this cycle in the future.
Over time, honest discussions about the true root causes of success and failure should replace the old model of retribution and excuse that drain 'old-style' performance assessments of any real value.
Build a development plan
Once we know the root causes of both our recent successes and failures, the manager can build a development plan that helps both eradicate previous causes of failure AND repeat the causes of previous success.
Note that this development plan may or may not directly involve the employee: Jane might benefit from some coaching in how to better delegate customer service issues to her team, but in Harry's case, the development plan may be to have some other sales people try out his new pricing plan.
No plan will work without those involved being held accountable.
Each performance assessment session should begin with a review of what was agreed in the previous session, and include both the manager and the employee in reporting back on progress in whatever was discussed. Jane will report back on the delegation coaching and how she's doing with that. Harry' manager will report back on how the other sales people did using Harry's new pricing structure.
It is this accountability that builds real, lasting, behavioral change. Without it, all of the good work that has gone into the performance assessment thus far will likely be lost, as the employee (and their manager) becomes too embroiled in the day-to-day, to tackle the areas needed for improved performance.
Les McKeown is a writer, speaker, consultant and President & CEO of Predictable Success(R), an organizational development consulting firm based in Marblehead, MA. He is the author of Retaining Top Employees, The Complete Guide to Mentoring and Coaching, The Complete Guide to Orientation & Re-Orientation. For more on employee retention, visit Les' Retention Secrets website.