Performance reviews can be stressful.
Whether you’re a junior broker or an industry veteran, few people enjoy having their professional accomplishments put under the spotlight. And believe it or not, most managers dread the annual performance reviews just as much as employees.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
When done correctly, performance reviews are one of the best ways to coach brokers and bring teams together. But that only happens when managers embrace performance reviews as an opportunity to push the entire team forward.
So from laying the groundwork for successful reviews to rethinking the process as a two-way avenue of communication, here’s how managers can use performance reviews to strengthen teams and help brokers succeed.
Setting the stageSuccessful performance reviews are much more than a single meeting. Instead, they are the result of a year’s worth of communication and team building.
Here are three things you need to do before the final review to set your team up for success:
1. Set goals and clarify expectations earlyLong before the annual review, sit down with your team and start planning for the year ahead. This typically happens at the start of the new year, and it’s a great time to ask brokers about their goals for key metrics, like number of proposals or prospecting rates. This is also the perfect time to share strategies, such as networking techniques or technologies that have worked for you.
After taking the time to understand their goals, share your annual goals and expectations for the team. Discuss how their performance fits in with your expectations, and suggest strategies to help them meet their personal goals. Doing this early clarifies your expectations and gives everyone a touchstone to refer to throughout the year. It also gives you a chance to share your expertise, which strengthens the team and helps brokers grow along the way.
2. Touch base throughout the year
Schedule several meetings throughout the year to follow up on the original conversation. At the very least, try to schedule at least one of these meetings each quarter. This is your opportunity to track goals and provide feedback on performance, and it’s also an excellent time to review your team’s progress towards any quarterly metrics.
Use these meetings to give each team member informal feedback on their progress. Talk about their recent performance, offer praise on big achievements, and don’t shy away from addressing any ongoing or potential issues. While providing constructive criticism can be difficult, do yourself and your team a favor and address problems now — the quicker you address an issue the sooner it will be resolved.
3. Make sure both sides are prepared
Start thinking about the annual reviews about a month beforehand. As part of the preparation, ask each broker to write a self-evaluation. This encourages them to take an honest look at their achievements and helps everyone feel more engaged with the process.
The best self-evaluations include open-ended questions, such as: What deal are you most proud of this year and why? What do you wish you had done differently? Where do you need to grow, and how are you pushing that growth? What can your manager do to better facilitate your success?
For your part, managers should review all notes compiled over the year for each broker and examine individual results. Consider questions like: How many prospects have they converted? How many deals did they close? What do they have in the pipeline?
To get a complete picture, try using a 360-degree review. These reviews incorporate input from everyone someone works with, including team members as well as subordinates and superiors. You can find many of these reviews online, but don't be afraid to adapt the template to fit your needs.
Nailing the review
So the long awaited day is here — it’s time to conduct the annual reviews. Luckily, if you’ve followed the above tips most of the work is already done.
Talk about the conversations you’ve had over the year. To show this is a two-way discussion, invite each broker to go over their own self-evaluation before you comment on their performance. Don’t be surprised if top performers rate themselves lower than you do while the poorest performers rate themselves higher than you rate them. These gaps show you aren’t on the same page, so discuss the differences to try and communicate future expectations better.
But ultimately, unless something big happened in the last quarter, nothing said during a performance review should be new information. Use the final review as a tool to coach brokers, and remember that any critique is about results, not the individuals themselves.
Too many managers rely on vague numerical grades; avoid that trap by making your feedback as clear as possible. Instead of dumping brokers into categories, offer practical suggestions on how each individual can up their game in the future.
When done correctly, the performance review process is an essential part of coaching teams and deepening communication. When done incorrectly, it’s often nothing more than an awkward meeting that does more harm than good. From setting clear goals in advance to maintaining strong communication along the way, use performance reviews to strengthen your team and help brokers reach their goals.