One of the ugliest jobs a sales manager has to do is performance reviews. They are absolutely necessary if sales managers want to develop people’s skills but they are time consuming and ornery if you do them the right way. So, let’s go back to the mid-80’s, which was a great decade. Reagan was president, interest rates were coming down, the economy was recovering, capitalism was in full bloom and the Russians finally found a president they couldn’t intimidate.
At the time I was a sales manager and I’ll be honest not one of the most organized managers. I had two reviews to do on salespeople who worked with me. I had let them go until two days before they were due. Human Resource departments take this stuff seriously so they were all over me. Along about 11 PM the day before these puppies were due I was just about to finish the last one and feeling very smug because I had beat the deadline. Of course I was doing the reviews on a desk top, which in that electronic era were pretty reliable even if the users weren’t. Some how, some way I pressed the wrong button and my screen went blank. Blank is bad! With some luck I did get the screen back but there was no review and there was no review in any of the files I accessed. I had failed to save any of the work I had done on the two performance reviews.
It actually took a couple of minutes for the sheer weight of this bonehead mistake to hit me! I had to do both of these reviews over again!
So here’s a little bit of advice that will save you time when you do reviews. And the advice is not to save often. I’m going to assume that all of you do that. The advice is to take notes often about how your salespeople work. Look at the performance review form to determine what the HR personnel want to know about how people have grown or not grown in the last year. Using that information as a baseline begin to document how your salespeople have progressed in the last year. And be specific. Give examples of how an individual has improved (or not) in specific sales areas. File these notes both electronically and on paper. I know, paper sounds old and corny but when Murphy’s Law takes control of your laptop you’ll guard that piece of paper jealously.
I guarantee that tracking behavior throughout the year will save you enormous amounts of time when you actually prepare the review.
The Final Thought: “An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” (Mae West)