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A simple note-taking strategy for better performance reviews

Amanda Sabreah
May 31, 2021

Performance reviews are crucial to enhancing team performance. Any team. Marketing, basketball, and engineering. Although crucial, they can be one of the more awkward activities in a work setting.

It's awkward from both sides: manager and direct report. But it doesn't have to be this way. At Staat, we try for performance reviews once a month but as the company grows this will transition into a weekly or bi-weekly initiative.

We're small and we all know each other fairly well, yet I felt I still needed some tool to break the ice and guide me for 1:1s. So I wanted to share with you a strategy I use that drives authentic relationship building and performance effectiveness.

The magic tool is a simple bulleted note that highlights:

  • Very specific achievements that you acknowledge - this doesn't have to be a large organizational feat, it can be a simple "I recognize you've been close to capacity and still meeting deadlines."
  • General things they're doing well - make sure to talk through how these things are moving the team forward and aligning with their personal goals
  • Areas for growth - specifically calling out how improvements in these areas will help them reach their personal goals
  • A section for specific notes you want to note/watch for the next review

If you read our take on how to give good feedback, then you know that each section should be an equal amount of bullet points.

By going through the exercise, you begin to really learn your teammate and at the end of the day, the performance of the team is largely dependent on how you understand your people and empower them to work together.

I keep a space in my private Notion where I simply duplicate and start over before each 1:1.

This can also be used if you want to take a "performance review lite" strategy. Throw this in an email and send it weekly or bi-weekly to your team.

If you're looking for 360° degree feedback, a simple Typeform can do the trick. Google's Manager Survey is a great place to start for how to ask specific questions for feedback.  I suggest using a Likert scale and asking some of these questions:

  • My team lead can identify my strengths and weaknesses.
  • My team lead provides me with mentorship beyond the day-to-day of my role.
  • My team lead acknowledges the work I'm putting in
  • My team lead listens to me with the intention of understanding
  • 1:1s with my team lead are helpful
  • My team lead exhibits transparency
  • My team lead trusts me
  • I trust my team lead

These two tools will increase your ability to open conversation, answer big questions, and help everyone on your team chart a confident path to growth.

Do you have a tool that works well for you in driving 1:1s? Drop us a note and let us know so that we can share with the community:

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