To Review or Not To Review?

The simple words “performance reviews’ can put absolute dread into many managers and staff members alike. Considering why this is, it can surely only be based on past experiences or hearsay of colleagues experiences.

Started in the Industrial Revolution when many of the roles were production based, a review was a simple measure of performance criteria i.e. number of widgets coming off the machine. Now in the knowledge wave, the question is, are they still relevant and meaningful?

Research indicates that performance reviews are not effective at improving performance and this is one of the reasons some companies are giving up on them.

It doesn’t help an employee move forward if a manager tells them what they did well and did badly last year. I am a real advocate that if a manager needs to give someone feedback, they should do that in the moment — not months later. Therein lies the issue.

If we were having meaningful conversations with our staff daily and weekly about performance against measurable, clearly communicated and agreed business goals, with honest, on point, two way feedback – then the reviews may not be required. But that is a lot of criteria to fulfill, to be able to have the confidence to ditch the reviews.

In consulting to small, medium and large size businesses over a couple of decades I would have to say the majority of managers are not having those regular feedback conversations.

The sole purpose of looking back in the review meeting is to improve the future. So, if we need to implement a process to encourage us to do that, then what business would not want to do that. The question is the process that a business chooses to adopt and how well its employees manage that process.

A business will do what feels right for them and this inherently comes from the top. Are the senior leaders engaging with their direct reports on strategy and metrics, frequently, openly and honestly? Are they enabling their managers to share clear direction and expectations to staff, with regular dialogue that is meaningful, two-way and genuinely looking for improvements? How it is tracked and documented is almost irrelevant, as long as there is some method.

Success of the process comes down to the skill of the leaders and managers. Not all can naturally conduct a performance conversation in a motivational and engaging manner. But done well – that’s what they are – motivational and engaging. Interpersonal skills can be learned and improved – some coaching is of value here. No one has it sorted.

You will note there has been no mention of pay review – that is a totally separate conversation.


Supporting Future Researchers of NZ

Each year the University of Auckland runs a two day Research Induction Course which also includes a half day workshop on presentation skills, facilitated this week by Suzanne Wilson on behalf of ProFormance.

This course is designed specifically for new post graduate research students from the faculty of Medical and Health Sciences to give an intensive introduction to essential research skills and to help them have the most efficient start to their period of research.

The Presentation Skills workshop covered key elements such as:

  • Interpersonal skills for effective presentations
  • Planning & structure of the presentation
  • Maximising the use of visual Aids
  • Involving the Audience

With over 50 students in attendance, Suzanne had her hands full but with the help of a “runner” on the day it was a great success and provided fantastic support to the future researchers of New Zealand.

70:20:10 Learning

Last week I participated in a webinar presented by the well renowned Charles Jennings of the 70:20:10 Institute. At ProFormance we follow the principle that only 10% of our learning comes from formal learning interventions and that 70% actually comes form on the job learning and 20% from informal learning/significant others like coaches and mentors. We work with our clients to ensure we deliver on this.

Charles Jennings presented plenty of research to back this up. He believes that high performing organisations understand that agility and adaptability are the key drivers for success. What organisations are struggling with is how to create environments where we “learn from our work” not “learn how to work”. This statement really resonated with me. As learning and development providers we need to create innovative solutions for our clients, that enable them to provide learning as close to the “coalface” as possible. When staff are involved in on the job learning, researcher found that staff engagement went up 250%! Imagine that. For many of our clients gaining staff engagement is the end goal.

Research suggests that managers who are focused and effective at creating development opportunities, and provide opportunities for feedback and reflection, lead teams that outperform others by up to 27%. That’s an extra day’s work from everyone every week!

It does require a mindshift to be able to be able to provide opportunities that train on the job and not as a separate intervention. HR providers do have a place in this. Charles outlines new performance roles in this changed model of learning.

There are two more opportunities to hear Charles Jennings speak in NZ – at a breakfast meeting and a workshop, both in March. If you are serious about lifting performance in your organization, then either is a worthwhile meeting.


Building a Need to Reduce Crime!

Here is a great example of sales people seeing a customer’s problem that their solution can fix! In sales training we talk about “building the need”. How big was the need here? Criminals were getting off prosecution because of a paper jam! Great implications and consequences if the the problem was not fixed. The Xerox reps took the glory for that one…

Xerox have made a bold claim. Photo / AP



100 Workshops

Congratulations to Tanya mogg, who has facilitated her 100th workshop for ProFormance! With vast experience in Leadership and Management Development, Tanya has been working with ProFormance clients as a consultant trainer and facilitator for over 15 years. The 100th workshop was facilitating Strategy Planning for Lifestream International which prompted the following feedback:

“Tanya was excellent as a facilitator of our recent Strategy Planning workshop. She was incredibly professional and respectful whilst able to challenge a highly articulate and qualified team! We got so much out of the two sessions and have planned to build a regular session with Tanya into our business strategy programme” – Dr Emma Parry, Lifestream International

DISC Profiling in High Demand!

With 2 working days till Christmas I want to thank all our clients for an amazing year. It has been a busy year where we have seen significant growth in the uptake of learning and development programmes across a wide range of industries. Investing in your staff is crucial and a lack of training investment is regularly sited as one of the reasons employees feel disengaged and potentially leave an organization. The change in Government has not slowed down the training investment.

Many of the programmes we have designed for clients have incorporated DISC behavioral types as it is such an enlightening and rewarding tool. It has been a foundation for sales training, leadership development and high performing team workshops. This unprompted email from a client (post sales and DISC workshops) explains why……

“I wanted to tell you how effective and lasting the results of your work with my team this year have been. They all spoke about how they have modified their sales calls for the better and have made long-lasting changes to their day to day activities especially in the areas of assertiveness and handling group calls!”

Already fully booked for January and February, we are excited to continue this great programme for our clients into 2018

Flying in for Values Workshop

“Winging it to Christchurch to facilitate a Values session for a client. Last of a series of 8 workshops to get all staff engaged and empowered with their new values program”

Straight on the Bottom Line

We tend to think of negotiation skills as tools that sales people need, but in fact all of us in business can benefit from having highly honed negotiation skills.

Think of the finance manager negotiating the salary for the new accounts administrator: think marketing manager negotiating advertising fees: or office manager negotiating the rate for the office Christmas party and most certainly the sales person negotiating the sell price of the new product range.

You may hear people say the disclaimer “but I am not a good negotiator.” The good news is, everyone can be – negotiation skills are trainable.

Within one week of attending a print industry negotiation workshop, 50% of the participants reported back that they had experienced success with their new negotiation skills and that it had hit straight on to the bottom line of their organisation.

A recent YouGov’s survey in the UK reported that the average UK business could increase its profitability by 7 per cent a year through better negotiation. This can be by buying better or selling better.

A few key principles, practiced well can make all the difference:

  1. Identify the other party’s decision criteria. Through clever questioning you can uncover what is on their shopping list and be able to rank it in importance to them. What are their non-negotiables?
  2. Know and value your variables – brainstorm all the variables that you have in your shopping basket and know the value to your company and your client. This can enable you to trade variables that have higher value to your client than they do to you e.g. payment terms or freight.
  3. Take time to plan. Use this information to plan a strategy for the negotiation. Stick to the plan and make accurate notes.
  4. Think win/win. Good business practice builds strong long lasting relationships. A quick win at any price is not worth it if you lose the customer in the long term. Work collaboratively towards a mutually acceptable outcome.

Those who attended the recent Negotiation workshop started to put into practice these key principles and found that they really do work!

Contact us to find out how ProFormance can tailor a Negotiation Workshop to suit your organisation’s needs.

Negotiation Skills Training Pays Off

The third group of PrintNZ members are now more than half way through their NZQA Certificate in Sales training and at least one of the participants has seen immediate results following the Negotiation Skills workshop last Thursday:

“I Just wanted to let you know, that I have retained the particular job over the competitor that I negotiated on “our benefits” over the price.

 I just cannot thank you enough for showing me such a powerful tool in my toolbox. This is something I would not have been trained on/shown if I hadn’t done your course. So our company has already benefited in many ways (including two new large multi-national companies) purely based on what you have shown me.

 I’m so much more excited about doing what I do because of the confidence you have instilled in me.”

The feedback from the whole group has been extremely positive and they are all making excellent progress on both the course and applying their new sales skills. It is great to see how well they have developed and it has not gone unnoticed by their managers! Read the full feedback report here: