Setting Team Expectations and Evaluating Performance

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Over the last year I have been inspired for a number of reasons to bone up on my skills related to improving employee performance.  This great post by Ben Horowitz led me to High Output Management by Andy Grove, which is a phenomenal reference for any manager. I have found Chapters 11 through 16 to be particularly useful.  Grove’s core message is that more often than not, an underperforming employee is likely being mismanaged.  Specifically, it is likely that the employee does not know what management expects the employee to do.  When an employee underperforms, Grove advises managers to double back and make sure it is abundantly clear what exactly is expected of the employee, what metrics will be used to evaluate the employee’s performance, and when the employee’s next performance review will occur.

At Liftopia, I have found this method to be extremely effective in managing the performance of both contractors and full time employees.  New contractors and employees now receive an expectation document tailored to their team and role which outlines what will be expected of them in regards to communication, project ownership and quality, and self awareness and honesty.  Depending on the team the employee is joining, the expectation document will include specifics around usage of communication and tracking tools that are relevant to the role, such as Salesforce, Trac, Basecamp, etc.  New employees and contractors also receive the form that will be used to evaluate their performance and are told when their first written performance review will occur.  Together, these two documents make it abundantly clear what is expected of the employee and how and when they will be reviewed against these expectations.  I have found this system to be extremely effective.  Of course there will always be employees that don’t work out, but if you have a system like this in place you can be sure that the mistmatch was not a miscommunication around expectations.

In case anyone might find them useful, I have attached a generic Development Team Agreement and Development Team Performance Review documents.  Both are generic enough to be adapted to fit any division within a company.  If you have any resources, tips or thoughts on managing expectations or evaluating performance, I would love to hear them.  Fire away in the comments.

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