Not all great leaders are born, but you can cultivate them through proper leadership development strategies. Leadership is crucial for visionary businesses seeking growth, profitability, and talent retention. Forbes puts it bluntly by stating, ‘businesses don’t fail, but leaders do’ – a truth and a call to action for all business leaders.
With that said, high-achieving leaders are not honed overnight. Leadership development is an ongoing process that you integrate with your organization’s appraisal system. Leaders require continuous feedback on various aspects of their professional and individual qualities. Then, they review the feedback, take action to address any shortcomings, and accentuate their strengths.
In this guide, I’ll share tips on performance management for leaders, leadership performance review examples and templates that help you cultivate capable leaders in your team. I’ll also share essential steps on how to conduct a leadership performance review effectively and derive valuable insights. More importantly, you’ll learn how to use Plai to set up and automate leadership performance reviews easily.
Leadership appraisals allow organizations to evaluate managers’ competencies in different areas. This ensures that managers continue to effectively lead their subordinates, manage projects, and cultivate strong understandings with the top management. During the review, participants observe and rate various leadership competencies, qualities, and skills.
To improve the performance review results, we recommend using the 360 review method when assessing your leaders. 360-degree leadership review enables various parties to assess the manager. This includes their superiors, peers, subordinates, clients, and vendors. Doing so allows leaders to learn their behaviors, skills, and communication style from different perspectives.
Here’s how to set up leadership 360 assessment for your managers.
Allow ample time to prepare, implement and analyze the leaders’ performance. This means segregating the leeadership appraisal process into 3 stages.
You determine the recipient and reviewers for the leadership evaluation. The manager being evaluated is the recipient while reviewers consist of individuals with professional interactions with the recipient. For example, the manager is reviewed by fellow managers, team members, and senior managers. Ideally, the manager should also self-evaluate their performance and compare the result with feedback from other participants.
The ideal frequency between subsequent leadership performance reviews is 1 year. This provides a sufficient timeline for managers to act on past feedback and track their progress. However, ongoing feedback is still essential between formal evaluations. Therefore, we recommend integrating peer-to-peer feedback with the regular 1:1 sessions. Alternatively, you can use Plai to schedule timely continuous feedback to managers.
Determine criteria that enable participants to evaluate the manager in different performance-related areas. These are some evaluation criteria that help to benchmark the manager’s performance.
This quality describes the manager’s capability to lead effectively at various levels – self, team, and organization. It consists of the ability, qualities, and traits like strategic planning, managing professional relationships, effective communications, and professional coaching.
Leaders are professionals who possess managerial skills honed through training or experience. For example, their ability to delegate, persuade, plan, execute and negotiate.
Leaders need to be role models for their teams. Therefore, this criterion allows them to be evaluated on humane qualities, such as accountability, thoughtfulness, vision, integrity, and ethics.
Leaders are key people who steer the organization forward. As such, they must demonstrate their ability to effect change, motivate, drive, or adapt.
Each leader brings a unique combination of traits, skills, experience, and competencies to the job. This results in diverse leadership styles, including democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional, and strategic. Understanding the manager’s leadership style helps align them with the organization’s culture.
Mindset separates great leaders from the pack. Evaluating this criterion allows leaders to explore if they are resourceful, decisive, humble, optimist, and ready to take on challenges.
Good leadership behaviors shape a conducive workplace and high-performing teams. For example, great leaders practice active listening, are punctual, and are open to constructive criticism.
This describes the fundamental ethics that shape the leader’s persona. For example, desirable leadership values include honesty, respect, humility, wisdom, and confidence.
Leadership goals in performance reviews include KPIs and OKRs that the manager has set. Evaluating this criterion provides insight into the leader’s commitment, discipline, and resourcefulness in achieving the goals.
A leader’s capability is reflected by their team performance, both objectively and subjectively. For example, you can evaluate the team objectively with metrics like sales, revenue, profits, and productivity. Meanwhile, subjective team evaluation includes qualitative observations, such as efficiency, by external parties.
A leader’s charisma is contagious, and it affects team spirit. Teams that are positive, open, and ready to accept constructive feedback show that they have a capable leader in their pack. Meanwhile, a dispirited team might indicate that they do not share the same ideals with the leader or have different work styles.
Integrating team goals and leadership performance is easy with Plai. Plai’s context panel allows you to add questions relevant to the manager’s evaluation goals. When recipients answer the questions, Plai automatically consolidates them with the manager’s evaluation data. Plai also allows participants to revisit their past reviews and eliminate recency bias, where recent events might influence evaluation scores.
Employees don’t leave companies; they leave managers. This statement reflects the leadership gap in organizations. If your company suffers from a low retention rate, you need an objective leadership performance review, and strong follow-up actions.
To ensure fairness, make the results available and transparent for the manager and the evaluators. For example, the HR, CEO, and the evaluated appraisee have full access to the performance review results. Ideally, the manager and the evaluators should receive the comprehensive report simultaneously. At the same time, you must ensure that the scores are hidden from other participants.
HR teams relying on conventional spreadsheets for performance review find it challenging to share results while safeguarding privacy. Accidentally exposing confidential results risk jeopardizing workplace harmony and trust in the evaluation system. Therefore, many HR teams use Plai to share evaluation results discreetly.
You get the final result by collecting and consolidating the evaluations from all participants. Based on the participants' scores, metrics, and comments, the manager will have a fair benchmark of their competencies, leadership qualities, skills, and other traits. To analyze the result, we recommend using Plai’s Radar Chart, which provides a visual indicator of how a manager leans towards different qualities.
The result sets a foundation for 1:1 discussions where HR and the manager explore opportunities for improvements, build on strengths, plan career growth, and have an open conversation on mutual expectations.
Leadership performance review continues beyond 1:1 discussions. To fully benefit from its implementation, personal meetings with managers must lead to proactive actions. Whether addressing identified weaknesses, strengthening good behaviors, or pursuing specific managerial skills, the evaluation scores must translate into concrete and affirmative actions.
This involves managers discussing their personal development plans with their evaluators or superiors. They describe what they wish to improve, set reasonable milestones and celebrate wins when they achieve them. By striving their best to meet the goals, managers became a better version of themselves and strong leaders for the organization.
Leadership performance reviews are only effective when you assign the right participants. As the reviews are held every 12 months, the participants must have ample interactions with the manager to objectively describe their skills, competencies, and other leadership qualities. This ensures the review is free from personal bias and assumptions that create inaccurate results.
For example, immediate subordinates can comment on the manager’s leadership style as they communicate daily. Meanwhile, fellow managers can suggest skills the recipient lacks and can benefit from when honed. Superiors, such as senior managers and the CEO, are in the best position to offer advice on career development and growth potential in the company.
Generally, a performance review is a formal exercise that evaluates leaders based on their competencies. Therefore, it’s crucial to define what leadership competencies are. In simple words, competencies describe leaders' qualities, skills, behaviors, and values. As leaders are unique individuals, each will possess strengths in different competencies.
While leadership competencies vary, an HBR survey involving 195 global leaders revealed 5 major groups of competencies:
These competencies provide an overall assessment of a manager's performance in a company. However, they must be broken down into detailed, concise questions to be helpful in an evaluation. Our experts share 4 types of questions that help HR design their evaluation around the top leadership competencies.
Open-ended questions allow leaders to express themselves beyond the confines of the given options. It facilitates open discussion or thoughts that help evaluators uncover valuable insights during the evaluation. We suggest asking open-ended questions during the feedback session after filling up the evaluation form. However, you can include some open questions as part of the review template if it helps you to meet specific evaluation goals in leadership 360 evaluation.
These are examples of open-ended questions.
You use linear scale questions to allow an approximation of evaluation criteria in 360 leadership survey. Participants choose a score from a given scale that reflects their perception and understanding of the recipient. Such an approach is suitable for well-defined criteria—for example, competencies, skills, abilities, and qualities.
We suggest that you determine the evaluation criteria before implementing the evaluation. Consider the manager’s persona, goals, and strategic purposes when doing so. These are some evaluation criteria that work well with linear scale questions:
Then, create the scales for evaluation. For example:
1 – Low level of development;
2 – Average level of development;
3 – High level of development;
1 - Needs Improvement;
2 - Partially Meeting Expectations;
3 - Meets Expectations;
4 - Exceeding Expectations;
1 - Below Expectations;
2 - Meets Expectations;
3 - Exceeds Expectations;
4 – Greatly Exceeds Expectations;
5 - Outstanding;
Remember to let participants comment on why they decide on a particular score.
These questions are not commonly used in leadership 360 questions in performance evaluations but are helpful in specific circumstances. For example, HR uses multiple-choice questions to determine managers' dominant behaviors. They provide several statements like the ones below, and allow participants to explain their choice.
Checkboxes are helpful when you’re preparing a personal development framework and offering recommendations to the manager. They also enable HR to evaluate overlapping leadership qualities, such as the manager's leadership style, mindset, and values.
With just a few clicks, use this 360 review template for managers and leadership review in Plai. You can customize questions, timelines, participants, and visibility settings. Get access to insightful reports on leadership performance and discuss them during 1-1s. Plai replaces cumbersome spreadsheets and brings all performance evaluation tools to a single dashboard. It helps you chart actionable follow-ups and build a team of capable leaders. Try a free trial.
In this guide, you will find:
- OKR principles
- Formulas & scores
- OKR methodology
- Step-by-step guide
- Free OKR templates
- Common mistakes
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