An informal poll of clients I serve shows that at least 27% of nonprofit leaders aren’t receiving a review by the board – YIKES!  Worse yet, research by Gallup shows that only 14 percent of employees strongly agreed they were inspired to grow and improve by their performance reviews. This combination of lack of attention to leadership growth and lack of efficacy when there is attention to it, is dangerous.

If you are a nonprofit board chair, or nonprofit Executive Director, I can offer you some ways to provide feedback in a constructive and inspiring manner.

Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind:

  • Don’t forget to define objectives and expectations. Set SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound — objectives at the beginning of the year. That way, your team members know what’s expected of them and can work towards it.
  • Do encourage your team to set their own individual goals.Your team members should have a good idea of what they need to learn and accomplish in order to meet your expectations. Empower them to break projects down into smaller goals so they can be sure they’re progressing.
  • Don’t only give feedback once a year. Most staff I know would like receive feedback more than once every 12 months. If you provide feedback on a more frequent basis, nobody will be blindsided by what you have to say. Plus, your team will be able to work on improvements as soon as it’s clear they’re needed.
  • Don’t skip preparation ahead of time. To provide solid feedback, you need to know what your employees have been doing over the past time period — and what the quality of their work is. Ideally, you should keep tabs on their progress during the year by making notes of what’s done well, what has been accomplished, and what needs improvement.
  • Do ask other team members for feedback.  It’s important to talk to team members who work with a specific employee. This can help you obtain a better view of his or her overall performance.
  • Don’t give unfounded feedback.  Everything you state should be backed up by facts. For example, if you say an employee wrote a good report but needs to work on his or her time management skills, point out that the report was delivered a day after the original deadline. Similarly, if you have positive feedback, state exactly what the employee did well and how it exceeded expectations.

As a leader and manager, it’s your responsibility to help your employees grow. By knowing what to do — and what not to do — during a performance review, you can provide constructive feedback that will empower your people to consistently improve and advance.

Are employee evaluations challenging for you? I can support you by developing an effective evaluation form, suggesting a schedule and provide coaching through the process. Contact me to find out how we can work together.

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