Performance Reviews- yuck!

Larry Tucker

Each nonprofit board of directors should be reviewing the executive director’s performance annually, and in turn, the executive director should annually review the performance of her leadership team. I’ve been surprised to learn these reviews aren’t occurring, or aren’t occurring at the right frequency, at many nonprofits.  

Performance reviews accomplish some very critical goals for an organization. They…  

  • Prompt (force) discussions about performance that may not be happening on a regular basis.
  • Provide the necessary documentation for all future actions, like pay increases or firings. 
  • Ensure that all leaders of an organization are on the same page, working toward the same goals, and acting out the organization’s vision and mission. 

You can easily spot the nonprofits where performance reviews aren’t happening….sloppy processes, mixed messages, “bad apple” employees. Reviews take time and energy, and often involve difficult conversations, so many leaders conveniently forget about doing them.  

Here are some thoughts about easing your way into a set pattern of effective performance reviews. 

Use a 360 Review Process. An effective 360 review process makes certain that you receive many perspectives on the same employee and doesn’t rely solely on your observations and opinions. The feedback, then, is more credible to the employee and will likely be better accepted.  

 Start with yourself. If you are the executive director, get performance feedback on yourself from your board and your direct reports. It won’t be a surprise then when you start the process on others.  

 Start simple. If this is the first review you have done in a while, don’t try to accomplish everything. Start with a few primary critical areas, like focusing on each person’s ability to “live the mission statement”.  

 Use existing templates or create your own. The internet is loaded with 360 review templates, but creating your own isn’t too difficult. It can simply be a series of statements like “Encourages teamwork” with four choices to choose from: Strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree. 

 Use internet tools. Websites like Survey Monkey and Zoomerang allow you to design and administer a 12-question survey for free and the results are presented anonymously in summary form.  

Effective performance reviews are important for the success of your organization. Start today!

Author:  Larry Tucker,  Executive Coaches of Orange County,