In my management workshops, I have always encouraged managers to not rely on the annual performance review to give employees feedback on their performance. Let’s face it, having to wait for six, eight or ten months to hear how you screwed up or did well defeats the purpose of the feedback doing anything to change behavior or inspire motivation. I usually suggest that supervisors make it a practice to meet with each employee each week for a mini review (A one page form that includes things done well, areas for improvement and comments should be sufficient.) That way, employees know more accurately what they’re doing right and where they need to improve. It shortens the time line of accountability for their performance, keeps you in the loop on what’s happening in your operation, and gives you the chance to help with problems they may br facing. And as an added benefit, at the end of the year, when you have to do that annual performance review to please the folks in HR, you’ll have 52 mini reviews on which to base your comments and ratings.
The push back I get from many of these supervisors is, “What, meet with each employee once per week? I don’t have the time. I’m too busy.” My response is that as a manager, what could be more important way to spend your time than spending it with the people who are the keys to yours and your team’s success. Interaction is what leadership is all about.
Now there’s been a study that vindicates what I’ve been saying.
It turns out that one hour per week is hardly enough if managers want to hit the sweet spot in terms of maximizing employees’ inspiration about work, their engagement levels in the work, the innovation they contribute to their work and their interest in the work. According to Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, who’s organization conducted a survey of 32,000 employees, that sweet spot is six hours per week.
That’s right – six hours!
Now that doesn’t mean six hours of one-on-one, face-to-face conversation. That would probably drive some of your employees away, crazy or even bore them. It can also include phone conversations, e-mails, team meetings, huddles in the hall, or texts about a problem. As long as it’s quality communication that says that as your boss, I’m interested in you and what you’re doing. Murphy goes on to say that according to the survey, spending more than six hours per week interacting with employees is probably too much and can seem smothering to them.
So the next time you’re tempted to spend time in your office doing paper work, ask yourself if you’ve spent enough time connecting with your employees first, and then pick you activity accordingly. The great management guru Tom Peters called it MBWA (management by wandering around) and it means getting out of your office and going where the action is.
For more on this topic, check out Laura Vanderkam’s article in Fast Company.