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Leadership development in the performance review process

Performance reviews enhance leadership development by aligning with the vision, evaluating competencies, offering feedback, and fostering growth.
Businessman and businesswoman sitting in front of a laptop discussing something on the screen

The performance review or performance development process plays an integral role in the embedding of your leadership development strategy. It’s your opportunity to begin to individualise the learning and development, bringing it to life and making it relevant to your individual leaders or future leaders. Not only does this approach ensure continuous growth for your leaders, but it also ensures that the leadership competencies that you’ve so carefully identified as being integral to your organisation’s vision and strategic goals are being nurtured and evaluated regularly.

Let’s dive into how to seamlessly incorporate the performance review process into your leadership development strategy.

1. Start with vision, strategy and values:

  • Ground the performance review process in your organisation’s overarching vision and strategy. Before discussing individual performances, reiterate the organisational goals and values.
  • Ensure that both leaders and employees understand how their individual roles and developmental milestones align with the broader organisational objectives.
  • List the values, understand what it looks like to live those values for the leader, and give examples of how the leader is living the values. Have a conversation about how the leader could deepen their connection with these values where appropriate.

2. Evaluate based on core competencies:

  • Design the performance review metrics around your core leadership competencies. For instance, if “strategic thinking” and “innovation” are competencies under “Leading the Organisation,” evaluate how leaders have displayed these in their roles.
  • Note: As business needs evolve, the core competencies might need revision, just like the rest of your leadership strategy does. Ensure the performance review process adapts to any changes, reflecting the most current organisational priorities.

3. Feedback for growth:

  • Performance reviews should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Leaders should receive feedback on their demonstration of core competencies, but they should also have the opportunity to discuss their own developmental needs and aspirations. You might gather important feedback about your leadership development process through these conversations too.
  • Link outcomes from the performance reviews to mentoring or coaching sessions. If a leader needs to strengthen a particular competency, a mentor might be able to provide more targeted guidance.

4. Link to training and development:

  • Performance reviews are one of the ways you can identify participants or future participants of your leadership development program. Use performance reviews to identify areas where leaders might need further training. For example, if a leader excels in “Leading Self” but needs improvement in “Leading Others,” recommend elements of your training programs that focus on team leadership or conflict resolution.
  • If an organisational gap appears broadly in your performance reviews, make this a focus of your development programs.
  • Encourage leaders to set developmental goals aligned with the identified leadership competencies. The performance review can then become a checkpoint to assess progress against these goals.

5. Succession planning insights:

  • Performance reviews, with a focus on leadership competencies, provide valuable insights into who is ready to progress into higher leadership roles. They can spotlight potential leaders who are already aligning well with the organisation’s vision and strategy.
  • For those identified as future leaders, performance reviews can guide the creation of tailored developmental pathways, ensuring they’re nurtured effectively for succession.

6. Incentivise leadership growth:

  • Introduce rewards for those who exemplify the desired leadership competencies and organisational values. Recognising and celebrating these leaders can motivate others to develop similar skills and behaviors.
  • Help leaders set personal growth goals based on feedback. The promise of personal and professional growth can be a strong incentive for leaders to align with the organisation’s leadership development strategy.

Your performance review process is an important element of your leadership development strategy. By aligning reviews with your organisational vision, evaluating based on core competencies and values, and linking feedback to training and succession planning, you can develop leadership bench strength, with a group of future-ready leaders prepared to face future challenges. This alignment not only propels individual leaders forward but also drives organisational success in the long run.

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Designing and Implementing a Leadership Development Strategy

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