Episode 39 – Building Out Reviews

Your Sports Resource

Building Out Reviews – Join us today as we explore the significance of performance reviews, their effective utilization by leadership, and key tips for crafting comprehensive evaluations.

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00:00:03 Introduction

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast, where each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership.


Let’s get started.


Hello and welcome to the Your Sports Resource Podcast. My name is Renata, and in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about performance reviews.


Now I know this is not a common practice with swim clubs, or if it is, it’s kind of at the end of the season, and it’s a last-minute effort, or it’s used more like a stick for punishment instead of how it should be used.


Today, we’re going to dig into why performance reviews are important, how they should be used by leadership, and my tips on what should be included in that performance review.


So, performance reviews should be a wonderful tool to grow and develop the staff, which in turn grows and develops the swimmers and the organization. These reviews help coaches, and other staff members assess their strengths and weaknesses in their coaching approach or style, communication time management skills, just to name a few things.


Understanding your areas of weakness should not be viewed as a massive negative, even though that’s how some arrogant bosses would like to approach that situation. Honestly, with them having the understanding of what needs to approve, it allows for a development plan to be put in place.


And I know you have heard me say over and over again that when you invest in your staff, they are willing to be innovative and take chances and learn when they feel valued, they provide value.


Other areas that demonstrate why performance reviews are important is that it improves communication, as in you’re able to discuss their communication with parents and even other staff members, but also between you and that person as their manager.


It opens up that collaboration. It gives you opportunity to solve problems before they become issues because you’re having that communication.


And again, it opens that collaboration because staff know you, as a leader, treat mistakes as lessons for improvement.


Performance reviews also are the canvas for establishing growth goals and gaining an understanding of how someone is progressing on that growth.


I would love to see clubs look at performance reviews more as a tool for overall organizational improvement and not, as in, you know, oh crap, afterthought or as a finger wag because something’s gone wrong.


We’re going to get into what I believe should go into a performance review in a minute, but first, I want to discuss how to roll these out so they’re balanced and offer each staff member, you know, the year they need to rise, rise to the occasion.


I often get asked what should go into a performance review when the season is coming to a close, and my first question is always, well, what were the measurements you gave them?


To me, it’s straightforward. You set the measurements and expectations up front, and then you help them get there. Then at the end of the year, you evaluate how they did.


I would recommend at least you know a quarterly check-in on progress, but heck, if I can get you to at least do to do things in the right order, I’d be a really happy consultant.


So, let’s talk about the process.


There are some items that will be decided by the leadership and some that will be decided upon by the staff member.


For example, I believe there are three clear areas to a performance review. One is culture driven. So, they’re living up to the values and behaviors.


The next is meeting the role criteria or expectations, and then finally, setting clear goals or objectives. There really should be no movement regarding the culture and the role criteria.


However, the goals will adjust year after year and should be driven at least partly by the staff. Now the manager might put some targets forward, but I think it’s essential for the staff member to have some input into their own goals.


And just to be clear, I’m going to state the order again in which this should be rolled out.


So, if your new year begins in August, then you should be having meetings with your staff to set the entirety of your performance objectives, say by early July.


Then the process of meeting and exceeding those objectives begins, and you will have regular check-ins to navigate everyone’s progression.


And then, in June or July of the following year, you will evaluate their performance and start over for the coming year.


So, the expectation is its expectation setting prior to rating, so they have an opportunity to live up to those expectations.


It’s kind of BS to grade them against something they didn’t know they were being graded against, in my opinion.


You know, as a side note, I used the word consultant to describe myself a minute ago, and I’ve been thinking about not using the word consultant any longer.


I don’t think it really accurately describes my role as a partner with clubs and universities. I’ve been considering the words implementer or integrator.


I feel like the work we do at Your Sports Resource is deeper than just providing high-level guidance we get in, and we work hard and develop plans with you to put things in motion, not something that most consultants do, which is why I’m considering the little title change.


I don’t know. I just thought I’d share my little deviation of thought there.


OH, say, OK, so let’s go deeper into what makes up a performance review from my perspective. So, what I mean is the breakdown of those measurements.


I believe it’s important to look at the whole individual and how they contribute to the whole of the club, so stay with me here, I know that sounds woo-woo.


But what I mean is that the measurements shouldn’t be only about numbers, and percentages are hard targets.


OK, you know that a strong culture is truly what elevates a club from living in the grind to thriving impossibilities. Everything is more open.


Minds are more open, opportunities are open, enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance are limitless. So, culture really needs to be part of what you evaluate.


I’m reading the book called Traction by Gina Wickman, and he has a really simple approach to evaluating a person from a cultural fit perspective, and that is if we live up to the company values.


Well, that should be the same for clubs and university swim programs. You set values and behaviors, especially if you work with me every year or for every few years.


So, the measurements should be if they exhibit those core values. So according to Whitman, he creates a simple chart, let’s say in Excel.


So, the name is to the left, in the rows, and then in the columns, each value is listed, and what you do is either give them a plus sign, a minus sign, or a combination of both. So, A+ slash.


Negative, in each column representing each value. A+ sign is if they exhibit the core value most of the time A+ slash minus sign is if they sometimes exhibit that value and sometimes not exhibit that value, and then, of course, the minus is if they don’t exhibit that core value most of the time.


Now what I like about this is it’s simple and straightforward, and as a manager, it gives you an opportunity to have a discussion regarding areas for improvement when it comes to true behavior and nature.


Wickman says those who don’t share the same values will end up weeding themselves out of the organization because they know they’re being measured against them.


The second area for measurement are their role criteria or expectations.


Now you really can’t do this if you haven’t written the person’s job description which I’m discovering is not all that uncommon in the world of swimming.


But when people know their roles, it’s easier for them to live up to those expectations and not feel like they’re constantly chasing a moving target or the whims of the head coach on any given day.


This also ensures you, as a leader, are leading your staff efficiently and effectively because everyone has a job description, and they understand at least what the minimum is to earning their paycheck.


Now the last portion of the performance review is really the bigger area, and it should be, at a minimum, a collaborative approach between the staff member and you as their leader or manager.


There should be some goals, not an overwhelming amount, but two or three would be really good, and I would start with asking them with what they want to achieve.


What is important for them to learn or to get a handle on it can be both personally them as a coach or it could be their contribution to the club.


Now typically, I would say these goals can’t be anything that’s really already inside the basics of their job description, it can be newly added tasks, I guess if there is a degree of learning there or a stretch of learning there, but they really should be.


Stretch goals that give the staff member the opportunity to grow so let me just give you, let me rattle off some examples.


So, budget performance, so accurate use of allocation of funds should be listed for the head coach, and you know any other directors from school director you may have, membership growth and retention can be set for head coach.


And the head age group coach, especially the head age group coach, and those numbers should be broken down into smaller numbers for each coach below the head coach and the head age group coach.


So that ensures everyone is involved in recruitment and retention and really living up to the team culture.


You can do placements in Championship meets the same way, you know, I just wouldn’t make them a the only measurement right because it’s dependent on someone else’s performance.


But some clubs like to include championship placements, and again you can break that down to the rest of the coaches.


Planning is a good one, so long-term athlete development planning or seasonal planning and adherence to that plan.


And again, that should go down to all down the line to all coaches. So, you ensure you have continuity in your approach with your swim club.


There’s certifications and learning new skills that the club is interested in knowing and then leading the way in training everyone on that skill. So, there’s a really good knowledge transfer.


It could be increasing dry land exercises, marketing, and social media plans, social media targets, increasing your swim school membership response times back to members.


If you’re writing performance objectives for admin staff, honestly, the goal opportunities are endless, but they have to be something where there’s an opportunity for knowledge game.


Growth for the individual or growth for the organization and for that growth and knowledge to be passed along to others as the organization grows.


Performance reviews really have a bad rap, but I believe that is because there’s not much deliberate or forethought given to the process.


Something that could be such an amazing tool to grow your staff and organization should not be a last-minute, OH crap, we have to do this thing because it’s at the end of the year type of proposition.


Today we discussed why they are necessary, how they should be rolled out, and what should be included. I would love for you to write a note to start planning your approach to next season’s performance reviews now so everyone has theirs ready to go in August for the new season.


This means everyone can hit the ground running, focusing on what is important to the club and what is important to that staff member.


This will pull in your team and making them feel like they’re working towards a greater good. Performance reviews are a good thing when done correctly.


OK, that’s all for today.


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