3 Steps to Giving Great Performance Reviews

Jeff Cochran


One of the most nerve-wracking events at any office is the annual performance review. Employees tend to hate the stress involved with hearing a year’s worth of feedback in one sitting. Managers typically dislike the levels of formality that official performance reviews require. Still, performance reviews serve a vital function at any productive workplace.

As we approach the end of the year – and the performance reviews that come along with it – let us stop to consider three tips for giving great feedback.

1. Be clear, concise and prepared.

The most important step to giving a great performance review is to be clear, concise and prepared when you are speaking with your employee. We recommend that you prepare for the review by assembling all of the materials that you believe you will need to complete the review. Then, take the time to speak with a few of your colleagues (if applicable) about the employee in question to get a more-rounded impression of the employee’s performance.

Once you have a complete view of the employee’s performance over the course of the year, you can distill that information down into a clear and concise review.

2. Engage with the employee and encourage their engagement.

Many performance reviews end up being a manager reading off a sheet of paper to an employee. Although that method may alleviate some of the stress associated with a performance review, it is far better to engage with your employees as individuals during the process. As you work through the review, stop and allow your employee to ask questions, give explanations or even direct the conversation to topics that they think are important.

When you truly engage with your employees during the performance review process, they are more likely to take your words to heart.

3. Set up an action plan for follow-up.

Many employees (and employers, too!) secretly believe that performance reviews are not at all effective. This is due in large part to the fact most performance reviews have no real consequences. In order to ensure that your employees take performance reviews to heart, the onus is on you to schedule regular follow-ups.

During the performance review, consider setting several concrete goals with your employee. You should also discuss the actions necessary to meet those goals. Finally, you should schedule regular meetings to discuss the employee’s progress toward these goals.

Performance reviews have gotten a bad reputation for being stressful wastes of time. Still, a well-done annual performance review is vital to the success of any business. If you are willing to put in the work before, during and after the performance review process, you, too, can give performance reviews that are helpful and stress-free.

Complimentary Webinar Invitation

Jeff Cochran



training magazine free webinar series

Give The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It

Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern

SNI, in conjunction with Brainshark, Training Magazine, and Sales and Marketing Management will be conducting a complimentary webinar: “Giving The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It!”

To make training stick and actually drive results, it must be practical, customized, and accessible when needed. How can you leverage on-demand training and tools to improve your sales team’s ability to execute?

Join as our EVP of Design and Production, John Buelow, and Brainshark’s VP of Sales Enablement, Marc McNamara, present examples of training content that it can be easily created, consumed, and tracked. They will share:

  • A systematic approach to sales and negotiation that increase accountability and drives results
  • Tips and tricks for delivering training content to boost engagement
  • How to measure and track results

To register for our webinar, please go to:

Five Rules For Choosing A Mobile App Platform

Jeff Cochran


When designing a mobile app, it isn’t enough to just code into the void and then launch the app to consumers. No – there are numerous ways in which apps should be optimized for maximum user enjoyment, starting with the selection of an appropriate mobile platform. Follow these five rules when choosing your mobile app platform to ensure ease of use and top performance.

  1. Choose a hybrid platform. Using a hybrid platform will allow your app to translate across different platforms and environments. This makes it less expensive to design and avoids the pitfalls of trying to translate a platform specific application. Make sure your hybrid platform is compatible with mobile coding, can run background activities, and can manage secure on-device backup.
  2. Adopt HTML5. HTML5 still has its problems, but because as a platform it embraces so many different functions, from messaging to data semantics, it is unwise to forego this platform entirely. Making HTML5 part of your hybrid platform will help to integrate your app into the growing community of HTML5 users, while still providing it with some firmer ground in the form of a joint platform.
  3. Engage with the cloud. It can feel strange to back-up your devices and programming in what seems to be the equivalent of thin air, but the cloud is the way to go these days. Don’t overlook more traditional back-end systems, but combine them with public and private cloud structures to improve the overall integration of your app with other programming.
  4. Choose your provider carefully. With the rapid changes that app platforms are undergoing resulting in constant turnover, it is important that you choose a supporting provider who is financially solvent and that has an extensive roadmap for product evolution. Your provider should be able to make new formats available to you rapidly, and their company framework needs to align with your service level agreements.
  5. Emphasize collaboration. Nothing in today’s marketplace is designed by a single person. Rather, it is much more common to find multiple teams of people engaged in the problem solving process of designing an app. With that kind of diversity, however, it is not uncommon to find different coding languages and conflicts between the groups. Make sure to choose a platform that can help to integrate the multiple groups into the final product and that offers collaboration software, resulting in a seamless experience for the consumer.

A New Face For Customer Relationship Management

Jeff Cochran


Let’s face it: customer relationship management (CRM) is a jumbled mess. We come to CRM with an empty box, and then an uncoordinated group works to add information to it. The leads generated by various parts of the sales force simply don’t come together into a coherent image of who our customers are. But with evolution in the field of CRM, there is potential for that to change. From the revolutionary no software world of Salesforce, CRM is evolving. The CRM of the future won’t require an entire team of its own, generating leads and pouring information into it. The only CRM worth having in the future will be one that provides those leads on its own.

Many highly successful companies have found that there is only one good way to deal with their CRMs, and that is to assign an entire team to the projects, along with thousands or even millions of dollars. The empty box that every current CRM starts out as gets filled by these teams, but only large companies have the resources necessary to make this happen. Instead, the rest of us are forced to work with conflicting information or missing updates. With a system like that, it’s impossible to know who needs our products.

A properly functioning CRM in the future will have the answer to that question. Right out of the box, new CRMs will have a set of customer recommendations. And, to make the system even better, those recommendations will be consistent across departments. If one department discovers that recommendations are wrong, the CRM will update across all departments. Leads should be singular and consistent in this CRM of the future. There shouldn’t be duplicates or entire CRM-dedicated teams. And those leads shouldn’t cost millions of dollars to uncover.

Finally, to really have an optimized CRM will mean that we get the big picture. The new CRM should be able to tell us whether our customers are on Facebook, or if they are Twitter users instead. A wide variety of information should be available within the CRM, and the system should be smart enough to know which representatives need which kinds of information. This may sounds like a stretch, but we are rapidly approaching this phase in the world of CRMs.

It was exciting when Salesforce first revolutionized the market by getting rid of the extensive software needs that CRMs used to come with, but the future holds even more exciting prospects. CRM may still be a hassle, but coming down the road are changes that will streamline the lead process in ways we never imagined before.