Performance Reviews Without Anxiety

Phillippe Lescornez’s team of grocery sales specialists go into a performance evaluation expecting a summary of hundreds of discussions that have taken place throughout the year, rather than any big news. Lescornez is a veteran manager in Belgium who scores among the top 20% of supervisors worldwide on the Eleventh Element of Great Managing, which is measured by the statement: In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress. He was also recently recognized with the Line Manager Excellence award for Europe. Lescornez and his sales team work for Masterfoods (a division of Mars, Inc.), in Brussels, Belgium. What sets Lescornez apart?

  • He gives his staff regular, insightful, personal feedback, rather than boilerplate reviews. He is noted for his challenging and invigorating discussions that leave no one guessing about how they are doing. He speaks with everyone on his team once a week, often more.
  • Lescornez feels that for his team to be successful, he needs to be able to see the potential of each employee and decide what progress would be most meaningful.
  • Lescornez develops in them a greater sense of ownership for building their markets and improving company bottom line. He spends time getting to know his team members and building a relationship before he gives constructive feedback, redirects any behaviors or advices improvement to processes. They trust him and take his feedback to heart.
  • Lescornez goes into the field with his team members and engages in lots of discussions. He gives praise liberally, acknowledging what they have done well. Then he coaches them toward improvement.
  • A hallmark of Lescornez’s leadership is the responsibility he gives his team and how he makes them struggle a bit to find answers, asking, What would you do? He helps his team think, instead of solving problems with authoritarian directives.
  • Lescornez inspires people by modeling to his sales teams better ways to approach challenges. In one case, his sales promoters had insufficient fact books. In the meeting, he asked them to pair up, discuss the good points in each other’s fact book and then share with the group. Everyone learned something from the other person, and the experience was positive and constructive.
  • At formal performance reviews, with so much direct coaching beforehand, there isn’t much drama left. Lescornez says to them, Okay, now we have to do the paper part. We’re going to do it together and fill it out, and then you can tell me if you are all right with what I’ve written down.
  • Turnover is an issue – because of the high number of promotions he nurtures. Lescornez has built his reputation as someone who will work to accelerate the careers of his people.

Source: Gallup Management Journal newsletter, July 2007 (Adapted from the book 12: The Elements of Great Managing; Gallup Press, 2006)