This is the fifth in a series of five AMA Playbook blogs that will help you with your performance management by redefining your company’s expectations of its employees as outlined in your annual performance review template. Modeled after Paul Falcone and Winston Tan’s The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit: Redesigning Your Performance Review Template to Drive Individual and Organizational Change (AMACOM 2013), the definitions below will help you redefine your organization’s expectations of its employees by raising the proverbial performance bar and setting everyone’s sites on a higher level of performance delivery.
Teamwork, cooperation, and the ability to put others’ needs as well as the priorities of the organization above one’s own immediate needs make for harmony, camaraderie, and goodwill. In comparison, solo performers and rebel producers typically put their own needs ahead of the group’s in an effort to stand out personally and garner individual accolades with a survival of the fittest mentality. However you define what the right balance of individuality and teamwork looks like in your organization, it’s critical that you define the group element appropriately so as to avoid “runaway” producers who follow a “It’s not so much that I should win but that you should lose” type of mentality.
When it comes to articulating how teamwork is valued by your organization and what it should look like in the workplace, there’s no better place to start than with your company’s performance review template. Let’s look at a before-and-after snapshot of how to best describe your organizational expectations in terms of teamwork and cooperation.
Core, Traditional Descriptors
Sample performance appraisal language seen in various industries define “Teamwork” or “Cooperation” along the lines of the following:
Communicates clearly and effectively at all levels. Produces easily understandable reports and presentations. Effectively deals with others, both internally and externally. Respects confidentiality. Provides timely feedback and follow up and manages others’ expectations appropriately.
If your company’s performance review sounds something like this when describing the critical element of teamwork, let’s just admit that the language could use some sprucing up and might benefit from a fresh injection of energy and insight . . .
Enhanced Descriptors Reflecting an Organization’s Heightened Expectations
Cultivates a culture of openness in information sharing. Regularly solicits constructive feedback, builds consensus, and asks well thought out and well prepared questions. Encourages open communication, cooperation, and the sharing of knowledge. Remains open-minded and willing to entertain others’ ideas.
Builds trust through regular, open, and honest communication. Demonstrates candor and level headedness in all business dealings. Listens actively and always responds in a respectful tone. Engages appropriately when in disagreement and pushes back respectfully and in a spirit of good faith cooperation. Speaks persuasively and convincingly but is not afraid to say, “I don’t know” and then research an answer. Manages others’ expectations appropriately and proactively communicates any potential problems or roadblocks. Effectively feeds information upward and rarely leaves others flying blind or unaware of important updates.
Regularly looks for common ground and encourages collaboration among team members. Welcomes positive confrontation rather than sweeping things under the rug. Assumes good intentions until proven otherwise and always looks to bring out the best in others. Resolves interpersonal conflict without drama or angst.
Builds consensus via shared decision making. Fosters a sense of shared accountability and group responsibility. Celebrates successes and recognizes and appreciates others’ contributions. Confronts problems head on but in a firm and constructive manner. Creates a work environment based on inclusiveness, welcoming others’ suggestions and points of view.
Now that paints a picture of what teamwork should look like at the enterprise level! Remember that what gets measured gets managed, and when you articulate your expectations this clearly, your managers and employees will gain a much clearer understanding of what their behavior should look like and how it impacts others.
Keep an eye out for other AMA Playbook blog posts that highlight how to set the performance bar higher for these key performance review competencies: Leadership, Communication, and Creativity/Innovation. Along with Customer Service, these “Big 5” will round out your performance review template nicely. And of course for other core competency descriptors, look no farther than The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit or Paul Falcone’s bestselling2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews (AMACOM 2005).
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Paul Falcone is a human resources executive in Los Angeles and has held senior-level positions with Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and Time Warner. He is the author of a number of AMACOM and SHRM bestselling books, four of which made SHRM's prestigious "Great 8" list: 96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire, 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems, 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees, and 2,600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews. His latest AMACOM book, 75 Ways for Managers to Hire, Develop, and Keep Great Employees,
was released in 2016. Follow Paul on Twitter at @PaulFalconeHR and his website and blog at www.PaulFalconeHR.com.