Successful organizations today are forward looking, mission driven, and value based with participative work environments. Employees are expected to work smart, using judgment to make informed decisions guided by a clearly stated vision and strategy. So, how do we keep our valuable employees from taking their knowledge and skills to another team?

Many companies use performance review systems that are autocratic, judgment based, and top down. They involve pages of standard forms to grade employees on their accomplishments and failures over the past year in an effort to recap past performance. In reality, most performance reviews are based on recent performance and ignore most of the accomplishments and struggles throughout the review period. It’s no secret that most people do not enjoy the process of giving or receiving an annual performance review. Managers typically aren’t comfortable in the role of judge and employees are often demoralized by the whole process. And really, what does it accomplish? Provide an arbitrary basis for determining merit increases? Guard against legal action?

Let’s face it, the world has changed. Peter Deming said “If your system does more harm than good, just stop doing it”. Don’t wait to replace it with something better, just stop doing it. In his book, “Catalytic Coaching”, Gary Markle asserts that coaching rather than reviewing employees is key to success.

Coaching is an interactive process that helps another person improve, learn something, and/or take their performance to the next level. Advantages to the employee include:

  • Building valuable skills that can be used to further their careers
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Feeling empowered, supported, and encouraged

But that’s not all. Employers also benefit immensely from coaching by:

  • Getting the most out of employees
  • Building the next generation of leaders
  • Retaining talent

If you break it down, the primary element of coaching is simply talking to employees. Actually, it’s more about listening to employees. Whether you use Catalytic Coaching or another coaching method, just have the conversations. Find out what employees want to do, how they want to contribute to the success of the company, how you can help them knock down roadblocks, and give them a chance to play.

I recently saw a social media post that went something like this:

CFO to CEO:  “What if we invest in our people and they leave?”

CEO to CFO:  “What if we don’t and they stay?”

In today’s world, the people who make up the organization are the foundation for all of the other internal business processes and customer relationships that are so important for success. Investing time to develop employees in the right way can make all the difference. For more information on business strategy and employee management and more, subscribe to our blog.

Photo Credit: Paul L Dineen