Regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports is the most effective leadership tool available to leaders. We recommend having these sessions at least bi-weekly and every week if possible.
The leader should take careful notes during and after each session, including:
Did the direct report accomplish what they said they were going to?
What are they planning to accomplish by next meeting?
How did the direct report handle obstacles?
How are their development plans coming along?
If leaders have their one-on-one sessions documented, conducting performance reviews requires little preparation as most of the work is already done. Simply review all the notes and discuss the outcomes with the direct report. There should be no surprises and you’ll both benefit from a focus for the whole time period not just the last few weeks each remembers. Nothing new should be discussed. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or formal; just a simple review of performance over a period of time. We suggest leaders conduct these sessions quarterly and even annually in lieu of formal performance appraisals.
Leaders who empower their direct reports to meet with them regularly in one-on-one meetings, document the conversations, and use the documentation for performance reviews experience more success.