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Performance reviews are only for employees and not the boss – right? Wrong?

The biggest mistake business owners and CEOs make is thinking they don’t need a performance review, that they know what they need to do and they just need to be left alone to get on and do it.

The challenge is that most business owners or CEOs don’t take the time to plan, they don’t regularly review their progress, and as a result, they are less successful than they could be.

What I have found over the years is that leaders or managers when left alone tend to create companies and work teams in their own image. They hire people they like (and who are like them) and dismiss people who don’t think like them or have diverse viewpoints to them.

Unwittingly they create strength in the areas they are strong in and weakness in their areas of personal weakness. Take for example an entrepreneurial CEO with a scattered and creative mind, who tends to have 4 million ideas running through their head, without taking any to completion.  Their organisation is one that faces constant change, with no organisational change process completing before the next one starts.

They have lots of ideas people, but not as many people who implement them. Any implementers in the team tend to burn out as they are not sure when it is safe to start to implement, because the CEO is still tweaking their thinking.

On the other hand, a CEO who is highly structured and risk averse may find it difficult to accept new ideas, which means that their team adopts the “this is the way that it always has been done” approach in their work, not willing to take risks.

If you want to work out a business, always look first to the CEO. Find out what they are like, and their strengths and weaknesses and you will know where to look to find problems in their business.

That is why executive performance reviews are such a critical tool. They create a system to allow regular looking at the data, checking assumptions, and recalibrating directions. They help to challenge the “we’ve always done it that way” and “business as usual” approaches, and stretch CEOs to build on their strengths while shoring up their weaknesses.

Executive performance reviews can be done on a “bottom up” approach – where the team provide confidential pooled feedback to the CEO. The Board of Directors can conduct the review based on their experience of the CEO and the data they have before them, or more commonly, CEO’s take matters into their own hands by hiring a business mentor or Executive Coach. In effect, all that business mentors or Executive Coaches do is help hold a CEO accountable and help them review their own performance.

A CEO undergoing regular coaching, mentoring, and reviews sends an extremely powerful message to their employees on the importance of continuous performance improvement. Data from the CEOs performance reviews can also be fed into the reviews of their management team, and from there the rest of the organisation.

In my experience, the first and most important person to get into a regular routine of reviews is the CEO. Like many employees, they may put up blocks and barriers to this approach, but the sooner they adopt a regular review cycle, the sooner the business will improve and grow.

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