Staff Reviews; Customer Reviews… How to ensure they work

6th December 2016

It’s that special time of year again. Yes, it’s Review Time…

So, lots of meetings with colleagues, customers and suppliers, to review how things have gone, to make sure everyone’s happy, and so on.

Reviews are useful if they’re done well. And pointless if they aren’t.

So here are a few tips to ensure yours work well. It’s what I call my ‘1-4 Plan’:

       One purpose
       Two talkers
       Three entries
       Four focuses

In more detail…

One purpose

Your review should have one purpose: to improve things for both of you.

In other words, after the Review, both you and they know exactly what you can expect from each other going forwards; and both of you have the skills and motivation to deliver this.

Two talkers

Reviews should be a two-way conversation between adults. They shouldn’t be a ‘verbal school report’, when one tells the other how well/badly they’ve done.

Three entries

Each Review should have three entries in your diary – the prep, the Review itself and the follow-up.

If you don’t diarise to do prep, you’ll have to do it outside work hours… or not do it at all. And if you don’t diarise follow-up, there won’t be any.

Four focuses

In Reviews, four things matter – two lots of two – past/future and good/bad:

  1. What’s gone best since our last Review? (past/good)
  2. What’s gone worst since our last Review? (past/bad)
  3. What’s the best thing we can achieve together before the next Review? (future/good)
  4. What are you most worried about before the next Review, and how will we overcome this? (future/bad)

Your Review must cover all four.

But many omit some. For instance, some are only past-focused – they just discuss last year, and ignore next.

Others are too negative – “let’s discuss what went wrong, and how we can make things less wrong”. Where’s the motivation and positivity in that?

When I explain the four focuses, people often ask how much time they should spend on each of the four. Well, that depends on many things. It is unlikely to be exactly 25% from each – the world doesn’t work as equally as that. But you’ll definitely have to spend some time in each.

My bias: because I’m such an AFTERs Geek, I spend most time on the future. So, even though it’s called a “Review”, I don’t spend long reviewing stuff. I think the past is for reference not residence. And the purpose of Reviews is to improve things, not just go over old ground.

Action Point

For each of the four…

One purpose – review the top line of your Review Form. Does it make the #1 purpose clear? If not change it so it is. Also, script the Review’s opening sentence, so you set the scene by explaining what the #1 purpose is
Two talkers – prepare two things – what you’re saying and what you’re asking (in other words, questions are as important as content)
Three entries – diarise three things for every Review
Four focuses – review your Review Form. Are all four focuses covered in sensible proportions? Also, plan your Reviews, to ensure you spend enough time on each
Five tips – in your Review, you’ll have to sell yourself and/or your ideas. I’ve created a set of short videos to help you do this (to be more accurate, there are about 35 tips – not five – but “1, 2, 3, 4, 35” doesn’t flow as well). You can watch them by clicking “monthly” here.

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