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Performance review

How to ensure Performance Reviews are effective

Regular performance reviews (a.k.a. staff appraisals) are essential in any organisation. They provide a dedicated space for business owners and line managers to discuss performance with team members one to one, help to identify performance-related issues early and provide insights that mean training and interventions focus on what is needed for the future.

There are no hard and fast rules about how performance reviews should be run, but following some basic guidelines can help deliver positive outcomes for all involved.

1. Make them regular

But how regular is regular? Online, you’ll find advice ranging from as often as once a week to as little as once a year. In reality, there’s no right answer – weekly will be logistically impractical for some businesses, while annually allows far too much time for even micro issues to escalate into real problems. The more frequent you can make them, the better, but in the end, it will come down to what works best for you and your team.

Remember though; reviews don’t need to be formal or take up lots of time. The more often you hold them, the less time you’re likely to need. For example, a 15-minute weekly or 30-minute monthly catch up should be sufficient. But whatever frequency you settle on, keep to a regular schedule. This way, everyone will have clarity about the process and will know what to expect and when.

2. Align feedback with your business goals

The key purpose of reviews is to check each team member is performing effectively – and that their contribution to your business goals is optimised. But a review discussion can be wide-ranging, and it’s easy to find yourself distracted by tangential issues. So keep the objective of the process front of mind throughout and focus your feedback to align with what will deliver your business goals.

3. Give clear, honest feedback

Inevitably, the review process will involve discussing difficult issues occasionally. While these exchanges might be awkward, you should not shrink from giving and receiving frank, honest feedback. Being anything less than candid will only lead to confused messaging and leave scope for a problem to escalate. Every successful relationship is founded on honesty, and a relationship between a business owner or line manager and an employee is no  exception.

4. Tailor feedback to the individual

The review process is like tuning an engine for the best performance, but your team are not inanimate mechanical components. Each is an individual with a personality and character shaped by their background and life experience. Therefore, it’s essential to tailor the way you engage, using dialogue to suit the recipient.

Make time to plan each review, both in terms of content and approach. Consider what you want to say and how you want the employee to feel. Take into account what motivates and drives them and how they respond to praise and constructive criticism.

And finally, what do you know about their personal circumstances? Perhaps there’s a new baby at home, or maybe they’re a carer. All this knowledge is relevant and will help to inform your conversation so you achieve the outcome you need.

5. Accentuate the positive

At the end of the review, it’s crucial you leave your employee feeling valued and motivated.

It’s a question of positioning. A good manager will identify what didn’t work and find ways to recognise and praise what they want to see more of. If there’s an aspect of performance where you want to see an improvement – rather than spending too much time analysing an individual’s shortcomings or weaknesses (and risk being drawn into a ‘blame game’), focus instead on what you want them to do to improve. Tell them about the strengths you see in them, how they can use these to enhance their performance. Let them know you have complete confidence, explain how you will support them, and leave them feeling good about themselves.

6. Be clear about how goals are to be achieved

On its own, a goal is just a statement of intent – it requires a plan of action to make it happen. Rather than simply stating a goal, it’s important you clarify how you see it being achieved. When you agree a goal in a review, discuss and break down the activities required to get there. In doing so, you’ll create a clear and aligned focus and vastly improve the likelihood that the goal will be reached.

 7. Check understanding at each stage

Prepping for a review requires thinking carefully about what you want to say and the key messages you want to convey. But it’s easy to believe you’ve made yourself clear when in fact, this isn’t the case at all.

Many things can get in the way of clear communication. If you skirt around an issue rather than getting to the point, the employee may be confused. And being too direct can have the same effect if you don’t allow time for information to be processed and questions to be asked. It may be that the employee is so focused on what they want to say that they don’t hear you clearly, or they could be nervous or anxious. Of course, this works the other way around as well. It could be you that’s listening but not hearing. Whatever the reason, if one party is not hearing and understanding clearly, the result will be mismatched expectations and disappointment when an anticipated result isn’t forthcoming.

Ensure you actively engage your listening brain during the review process and make space after each key point is made – on either side – to reiterate, review and reflect.

When we deliver training around this at Organic P&O Solutions, we encourage asking the question, ‘What did you hear?’. The response can often be surprising and very useful in making sure a point has been received and understood in the way it was intended.

8. Allow time for change

Don’t expect change to be instant. Breaking old habits and embedding new ones happens organically, with the help of time and repetition. Exactly how long change may take will depend on a wide range of variables. Look online, and you’ll find that 21 – 28 days is widely stated as the time it takes for a person to accept and implement a new habit. The reality is far more nuanced and what is certain is that it takes much longer for a new habit to become a permanent change in behaviour. For example, the moment it stops happening, whatever the timescale, if it has stopped happening, it’s not a habit anymore!

In brief then, you need to be patient because change is a process, not an event. As a manager, it’s essential to understand this and recognise and acknowledge incremental changes throughout the cycle.

Get More Out of Your Team!

At Organic P&O Solutions, we help business owners and managers implement more effective performance reviews to get the best out of their people.


Call us today to discuss how we can improve your performance process through a bespoke one to one or group training and development programme tailored to meet your needs!

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Making it Personal: 6 Ways to Use Personality Profiling to Build a Better Business

Being aware of the qualities and characteristics that create the unique personalities of the people we work with is essential – especially right now, when the pandemic means many of us are not able to connect with colleagues in person.

So, do you know what makes each individual in your organisation tick? Can you say what motivates them or which communication style they prefer? Do you know how they respond to stress or the types of people they do and don’t work well with? Can you predict how they’re likely to think and behave in different situations?

These are just a few of the questions you need to be able to answer if you’re going to get the best out of your people – and all of them require insight into the diverse range of personality types you’ll have in your business.

Understanding where your employees – and you – sit on the personality spectrum is a crucial step to developing improved teamwork, communication and productivity.

Thankfully, getting inside the heads of your employees doesn’t require you to be a trained psychologist. Ascertaining personality types is relatively straightforward. There are many profiling tools available that can assess and compare personality characteristics. They vary in sophistication and the level of information they return, but most are based on simple, multiple-choice questionnaires. There’s no pass or fail – each of us has a place on the spectrum – but the information they can provide has a range of practical uses.

You might think of profiling as something primarily used by employers when recruiting, to check a candidate has the qualities – as well as the qualifications and experience a position calls for. Certainly, if you’re recruiting, personality profiling tools can help make sure a candidate is a good fit for a vacancy – although, if this is the goal, they shouldn’t be used simply to identify traits, but rather as a means to understand the preferences of candidates in work situations.

At Organic P&O Solutions, we use personality profiling both for our clients and our own team. Here are six ways you can use it to benefit your business:

1. To Improve personal effectiveness

Profiling tools can be used on a one to one basis to help anyone get a deeper understanding of their personality. The process will provide insight into areas the person being assessed may not consciously be aware of, including how they make decisions, what they like to be appreciated for, their preferred communication style and their stress triggers.

Profiling shouldn’t be used as a one-time checking tool. Personally, I think there’s a good rationale for revisiting results regularly as context and circumstances change. As an example, at Organic P&O Solutions, we recently looked at our own team profiles to learn how each of us was likely to be affected by lockdown. It was a valuable exercise that helped us understand what we needed to do to assist each other and get the best out of ourselves individually and collectively.

2. To increase employee engagement

By helping employees understand their personality traits and how they fit within their team and organisation, profiling can help employees feel recognised, valued and accepted. As a result, it can bring about greater cohesion, a sense of belonging, higher engagement and more robust performance.

Research has shown that employees having the highest levels of engagement with their employer are likely to perform 20% better than other employees and are 87% less likely to leave the organisation. Clearly, engagement is directly linked to organisational performance (to find out more, download our whitepaper here).

3. To develop more robust team dynamics

When team members and managers understand the motives, tendencies and behaviours of each other, they can use this knowledge to inform how they interact. Profiling can create the opportunity for a more effective dialogue where team roles and responsibilities can be agreed, and where communication and conflict are easier to manage – leading to a strong team bond based on mutual understanding.

4. To enhance management skills

Personality profiling can help managers adapt their leadership style to get the best from their team. When a manager understands their own personality characteristics and those of their team, important decisions can be communicated in a way that takes into account what works best for individuals.

5. To build better communications
Personality profiling creates a common language that allows individuals to explore their differences more constructively. Knowing the personality types and preferences in a team, and understanding how you and others like to interact can facilitate better communication

Sharing results with employees will encourage them to adapt their behaviour where change may be needed, and make them aware that people may interpret the same thing in different ways – helping them understand why colleagues might see something one way while they see it differently.

6. To increase productivity
Crucially, personality profiling can positively impact your bottom line. Companies that focus on developing people and strengthening teams to their fullest potential will see an increase in productivity levels. This is because their team learning and individual preferences are linked to how goals can be delivered, and those, in turn, are connected with overall business objectives and performance metrics in a way that works for everyone.

You might believe you know what personality type you are – but you’ll almost certainly know someone who’s opinion of themselves – at least in certain situations, is entirely at odds with your own. You may believe you’re a good judge of other peoples’ personalities, but be honest – how often have you been proved wrong?

The fact is that we’re all capable of working outside of our preferred styles. For many years I worked in an environment that required me to be outgoing, so that’s the persona I adopted – but actually, I lean more towards the introvert/thinker end of the scale. When I have a problem to solve, the last thing I want to do is talk it through with someone: I need time to myself to focus and think things through. Because profiling has helped make me aware of this, and I’ve shared it with my team, they understand that this is how I like to work, they know to leave me alone while I consider the challenge and come up with a solution, before I bring it to the table for discussion.

Tools of the Trade

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of personality profiling tools to choose from. In no particular order, here are three of our favourites:

  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
    MBTI has been around for nearly six decades. It’s my preferred tool when it comes to working with teams because it’s very scientific and can produce real ‘light bulb’ moments. However, being able to interpret the results and translate them into practical actions requires having a good understanding of the process.
  • DISC Profile
    Even older than MBTI, DISC is an intuitive profiling solution that’s simple to implement. DISC refers to the four behaviour types the test assesses: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. It is more focused on behaviours than preferences but has the same Jungian roots as MBTI.
  • Thomas Kilmanm Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)
    TKI looks at how individuals deal with negotiation and conflict – both of which call for the same skills. We use this tool to help people understand how they can adapt their behaviour to address challenges and reduce the likelihood of conflict.

Let Us Help You Make It Personal

If you’ve not used personality profiling, you may not be getting the best out of yourself or your employees. Here at Organic P&O Solutions, we’re expert practitioners in a range of profiling tools. Contact us today to find out more about how we can use them to help improved personal and team performance in your organisation.

Get Your FREE Personality Profile Report!

Would you like a free personality profile report on yourself? We’re giving 7 reports away free of charge – but hurry, this offer is on a first-come-first-served basis.

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4 Insights That Will Boost Your Learning Power

I had a brilliant experience when I recently learned to ski for the first time. I love a challenge, especially if it involves overcoming some fear. But that isn’t true for everyone. Over the course of the week I was reminded how important it is that we understand different people learn in different ways. That goals are important but even if you’re learning the same thing, they won’t be the same and that well-intentioned support for people learning something new needs to be supportive to the learner if it’s to have a positive impact.

I looked up the dictionary definition (Oxford English) which describes learning as “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught” but what is the best way to approach learning something new? Is it limited to study, experience and being taught? What hinders and what helps?” I’ve shared some reflections here.

  • Nurture is needed

Learning is a natural, evolutionary process. It happens both on purpose and by accident, in different ways, for different people. It cannot be forced, and it is particularly disabled by fear. For example, anything I had learned vanished from mind and body when I looked at a downhill slope I wasn’t sure about. A few deep breaths and some calm thoughts and I was able to focus and deploy the new techniques I learned. So, if fear of what might go wrong prevents learning, it reminded me how futile it is to expect employees to learn and apply new skills when they are fearful of the consequences of making mistakes. We had a masterful ski instructor who knew how to deal with the fearful and the fearless so we were all in a safe psychological space to attempt anything new. He then imparted his wisdom with authority, respect and kindness. He never belittled us with his vast expertise or ridiculed our efforts which in comparison to his expertise, mine were beyond minimal. So, if learning is to really take shape, mistakes must be expected, allowed and made. Discussion and instruction are not enough. Immersion and experience are a must so attention can be given to the corrective measures that are needed for that learner, at that time, to succeed.

  • Own your journey

Get clear about what you want to achieve, understand how you learn best and then choose the activities that will help you achieve it. In that order. Whatever it is. This is especially important when you’re a beginner. I would have liked nothing better than to feel completely comfortable down steep cross-country slopes in a week. How exciting?! If I’d set out to try that, I’d have left disappointed at best. I was a beginner and not a young one! Every day I set small goals, and every day I felt a sense of achievement. This was particularly helpful on the days when I fell over a lot. One day was simply to be upright for longer! So, set goals based on your actual achievement levels, be aspirational, but be realistic too. Don’t let other people’s judgments limit your desire and will, but equally, don’t accept challenges you don’t feel ready to take on. I witnessed some keen supporters, who thought they were encouraging, knock the confidence in a fellow beginner. “Go for it!” “Push yourself!” attitudes don’t work for everyone. If it doesn’t work for you, politely decline.

  • Understand your style

Learning happens through a combination of thought, word and deed. The ratios of each will vary from person to person. For example, some people learn best by getting started (deed) and finding out what works and what doesn’t along the way, while others prefer to research (word) and absorb information (thought) before getting started. All are essential, but the order and combination are personal. I ran an anecdotal social media poll and the differences were across the board. So, it’s not up to someone else to dictate how you should or shouldn’t approach your learning. For example, if you learn well by experience, find safe and contained ways to experiment that work for you. If that isn’t you, find ways to gain the information you need, the instruction or materials that will be useful to you, the guide / teacher with the approach that you find helpful, the person with the competence to observe at the right level and so on. Whatever your preferences, accept you’ll need practise and reflection as part of your learning journey in good measure if you want to see improvements in your results. Then celebrate the successes that are significant for you along the way.

  • Focus on what’s helpful to the learner

I witnessed some amazing attitudes on those slopes. The full range from helpful and forgiving, to intolerance and yelling. I also heard a lot of information being given that didn’t land with the person it was aimed at. One day, when I fell over on my way down a slope that I had navigated just fine earlier, I knew as I landed, in a heap, what I needed to do differently. A kind soul stopped to help me up. Once I was up, I also knew it was time for me to stop for the day. I had enough knowledge, I didn’t have enough energy left in my legs to apply it. The kind stranger gave me a long explanation about how to stay upright. It took about 10 minutes. It felt like half an hour. It was not long after my 2-hour ski lesson, which let’s face it, as a beginner, was all about how to stay upright! It was well-intentioned, but it was not helpful to me at that time. On this occasion, I simply said “Thank you” and went on my way. But it reminded me of the many times I have enthusiastically imparted a pearl of wisdom and wondered why someone seemed perplexed and a little ungrateful, when a simple enquiry would have been more useful. It’s an important point for anyone who has the supporting role in someone else’s learning and if it’s a repeated pattern of behaviour you’re on the receiving end of, find a way to express it so the helpful soul can support you in a way that works better for you. If they really are intending to be helpful, they’ll be grateful to know so they can support you better going forward.

What are your ideas and experiences about learning something new? Does anything here resonate for you. I’d love to know.

We love working with leaders and their teams with a range of learning and development programmes at all levels of the organisation. Always targeted at helping people achieve their goals. If you’d like to discuss how we might help, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today for a no obligation consultation.

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3 Things Leaders Must Do to Get the Best Out of Your Team

If you lead a team, you’ll have one objective – to optimise its performance.


But how can you do this when you’re managing a collection of disparate individuals? How can you develop a cohesive unit where everyone works together, delivers their best and supports one another, when each member of your team has their own unique personality, character and motivation?


Whether you subscribe to the view that great leaders are born or made, there are three things all leaders must do if they’re to inspire their team to perform at the  highest level:


  1. Build Strong Relationships

A cornerstone of successful leadership is building, developing and nurturing strong relationships with everyone in your team – not just with senior-level staff.


As well as having a clear understanding of the skills each individual brings to the team, you must invest time to get to know all those you’re managing on a personal level. Taking time to learn about the individuals you manage will help you understand the dynamics of your team.


It’s important also to make opportunities for team members to get to know each other. In this way, the team will become far more than the sum of its parts.


When everyone in the team has confidence and trust in everyone else and knows how they work, creativity and synergy will happen naturally. Team members will intuitively know how to respond to one another to achieve their shared goals.


To develop this level of mutual connection in your team, you’ll need to dedicate a higher proportion of your time to supporting and listening to your staff. But you’ll have to exercise your judgement as to when it’s appropriate to relax with your team and when you need to push them to deliver your objectives.


Invest in building relationships with your team and explore ways in which you can celebrate their wins with them. You can’t win every time, so remember to empathise and console team members when the outcome isn’t what you wanted.


  1. Be Clear About Your Objectives & Plans

People aren’t manufactured – they grow organically, with their own strengths, weaknesses and preferences – in their own time. They also do it when they have something they want to achieve for themselves and each other. But on its own, this isn’t enough.


Teams need to believe, understand the plan and have the skills to put the method in place as standard practice if they’re to stand a chance of achieving. Experience helps of course, and this will come with time, but you’ll need to ensure your team has clarity about what you want them to do, and how they are to work together to achieve it.


If you’re disappointed with your team’s performance on any level, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re communicating as effectively as you should be.


So often we expect people to know what we want them to do without giving them clear directions or the benefit of our advice. When it’s deserved, be sure to praise team members, so they keep going, and when you need them to make adjustments to the way they’re working, give them the constructive feedback they need to be able to understand and implement the change you require.


  1. Mindset & Preparation

Your team might be a composite of all the right skills and experience. Still, if you don’t prepare them for the task you want them to undertake by instilling the right mindset and giving them the opportunity to practice, you can’t be sure how they’ll perform under pressure.


With a positive team mindset, your team has the best chance of achieving its goals. Success is the result of incremental actions, some of which may appear small, but when added together, can make the difference between winning or failing.


And the adage, ‘practice makes perfect’ may be a cliché, but it’s also true. Individually, your team know what to do and how to do it – that’s knowledge, but only through practice will you be able to help them create the neurological pathways they need to be able to act instinctively and to stay focused in the moment only on delivery.


As we said earlier, you can’t expect to win 100% of the time, but if you know your team has a winning mindset and has rehearsed every potential step – if the outcome doesn’t go your way, you’ll be able to move on to the next opportunity knowing everyone did their very best, with no need for blame or excuses.


Can We Help You Create a Winning Team?

At Organic P&O Solutions, we work with teams of all shapes and sizes, helping team members understand each other, communicate effectively, develop a successful mindset and work together towards a common goal.


If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you create a winning team, call us today to arrange an initial conversation.


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