Most founders tend to run these kinds of meetings with their team members as 'performance reviews'. But the trouble is that both those words refer to things that happened in the past.

As entrepreneurs the past is less useful to us. Our investments in our teams are like the stock market — past performance is no guarantee of future results.

What we care about is the trajectory someone is on, how it tracks into the future, and how that maps to what the agency will need in future. Then we want to productively discuss how to improve that picture of the current likely future.

Therefore, the Convivio way is to have two tracks for you as a leader to take your team on:

  • Performance Reviews are now only a step before a possible disciplinary process, or managing someone out of the business. Taking the time to help people by mapping out the problems in more detail, and making the situation clear. It's an 'intervention' to give them a chance to recognise the issues and fix them. This is what everyone fears anyway, when they see you've booked a 'performance review meeting' in their calendar, so now people only need to have that dread if it's warranted.
  • Progression Planning sessions are regular meetings (quarterly or half-yearly at least) for team members who are doing fine or great, and to discuss how to develop themselves, their role, their progress in their agency — and their progress in their career. They are positive, exciting, hopeful and inspiring. Because people know it's definitely not going to be the chop, they can look forward to them and be less defensive. The conversation can be more collaborative and future-focused.

Most companies mash these two into one — so each meeting could go either direction. And in the end they become a muddy mix of the two. Combine this muddiness with a lack of experience of managing people and you can end up with a demotivating unproductive hot mess that everyone hates. And that is performance management in most companies.

So let's recognise there are two routes people could be on, and design each to be more effective.

On this page, we'll delve into the Progression Planning route.