When discussing performance and career development with individual employees several factors can influence the way the conversation is shaped. The criteria will differ for leaders than for individual contributors, because the skills and the responsibilities of leadership are quite unique from those who contribute to the team.

Evaluating an Individual Contributor

When reviewing the performance of an individual contributor to the team it can be useful to look at things like:

  • Technical tasks – How their skills match the skills required of the job.
  • Responsibilities – How are they managing their weekly, monthly, quarterly responsibilities? Are balls getting dropped? What new responsibilities might they undertake in the future?
  • Development – What new knowledge have they acquired since your last conversation? What new knowledge do they want to learn?
  • Accountable– Do they own both their successes and failures? Or, do they place blame on others?

Evaluating a Leader

When sitting down to discuss performance with a leader, the reviewer will want to address:

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  • Team management – How is the team performing to goals?
  • Inspiring others – How well does the leader motivate employees and light their inner fires to succeed?
  • Driving company vision – Does the leader’s team understand where it fits in the big picture, and do its members believe that what they do matters for the success of the company?
  • Change management – One thing is certain in business, and that’s change. How well does the leader manage through transitions and change?
  • Driving accountability – Is the leader accountable for his or her performance? How well does he or she drive accountability in the team?

Not All Criteria Will Differ

Whether you’re working with a leader or an individual contributor, all performance reviews at all levels should also include these important aspects that impact performance:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Openness to feedback
  • Implementation of feedback
  • Time management
  • Prioritization
  • Decision Making

It is also useful to include peer reviews and 360-degree assessments at all levels. The more data points that managers and employees have when it comes to performance, the better. It eliminates the appearance of bias, and gives the reviewed many perspectives to consider.

Tailoring Approaches

Tailoring approaches to performance reviews sounds like a time-consuming task. Wouldn’t it just be easier to set up a template that could be used across the board to save time, energy, and money?

Successful companies understand that all conversations about performance should be tailored to the individual. Not only do you have to tailor your approach based upon the employee’s level of contribution, but you also must tailor your approach based upon the individual needs and preferences of the person receiving the feedback.

Performance reviews and development conversations should never be an afterthought. It is people that drive the organization, and leaders must be willing to invest the time and the resources required to make all performance conversions valuable and effective for employees at all levels.

And remember that performance reviews should not take the place of consistent, ongoing coaching and feedback!