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Eileen McClelland

Take a Performance Snapshot of Your Staff



At the airport, during my holiday travels, I picked up the book, “HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The definitive management ideas of the year from Harvard Business Review.”

Eileen McClelland

editor at
INSTORE Magazine.


t the airport, during my holiday travels, I picked up the book, “HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The definitive management ideas of the year from Harvard Business Review.”

The first chapter I read — about performance management — was interesting enough to get me through some significant turbulence.

My takeaways from this chapter are:

  1. Simplifying your performance review system could very well improve employee performance.
  2. It’s important for team leaders to check in with team members frequently to ensure best future results.
  3. It’s vital that team members are working to their strengths.

International consulting firm Deloitte has invested significant time and research in reinventing its performance management systems recently, and discovered that a strong response to these three items correlated best with high performance for a team:

  1. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work.
  2. The mission of our company inspires me.
  3. I have the chance to use my strengths every day.

Of these, the third was the most powerful correlation to high performance.

Gallup did a similar study in the 1990s, which found that business units whose employees chose “strongly agree” in response to “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day,” were 44 percent more likely to earn high customer satisfaction scores, 50 percent more likely to have low turnover and 38 percent more likely to be productive.

After identifying what qualities correlate with high performance, Deloitte then restructured its performance reviews to focus on how the immediate team leader feels about each employee’s work immediately following each project they complete or at the end of each quarter.

They call it a performance snapshot.

Team leaders respond to the following four questions:

  1. Given what I know about this person’s performance, and if it were my money, I would award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus (5 point scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.)
  2. Given what I know of this person’s performance, I would always want him or her on my team.
  3. This person is at risk for low performance (yes or no).
  4. This person is ready for promotion today (yes or no.)

This method asks the team leader what they would do with each team member rather than what they think of that individual, which can be a more subjective evaluation.


The next component to the change was to begin to find the best way to fuel performance.

The best team leaders, Deloitte discovered, conduct regular check-ins with each team member about near-term work. Brief conversations allow leaders to set expectations for the upcoming week, review priorities, comment on recent work, and provide course correction, coaching or important new information.

So, Deloitte now requires that team leaders check in with team members once a week. If you want people to talk about how to do their best work in the near future, they need to talk often. This idea also puts the focus on the future and doesn’t dwell on the past, like an annual or semi-annual performance review might.

(From “Reinventing Performance Management by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall).


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