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8 Steps to Better Quarterly Performance Review Meetings

Posted on October 1, 2019 at 3:55 PM



You see the upcoming meeting on your calendar and feel a familiar dread. "Has it already been three months?" Of all your meetings, this is the one that takes (wastes?) the most time. How many people attend these meetings? How many people-hours does it take to put the slides together each time?


When done well, Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) or Quarterly Performance Reviews (QPRs) can be an essential way for leaders at different levels of an organization to stay in synch and demonstrate good governance. When done poorly, they can be a soul-sapping waste of time. If you are involved in QBRs, here are 8 steps to make sure your organization's QBR's are effective.


1 - Identify Your Audience's Goals - Who is the main audience for the meeting - e.g., the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)? What do they most need, and want, to learn from this meeting? They probably sit through several of these each quarter and don't want a primer on your business again. They definitely don't need to hear how busy you are. Perhaps they just want to see the results in your area - especially discussing where results are not as expected. Perhaps they want advance warning of risks and bad news so they can try to manage them. Perhaps they want to hear good news so they can share it. Perhaps they want to hear what is top of mind with your customers or employees. Anticipate the handful of things your audience is probably going to focus on and plan your meeting around those. Reviewing notes from previous QBRs can be a good start to identify themes that recur.


2 - Identify Your Goals - As an organizational unit presenting a QBR, it can be one of the few times you get the CEO's attention focused on your team. Make sure you meet their needs listed above, but don't forget to incorporate your goals for the meeting too. Perhaps you need to tee up a decision or a resource request you need from them. Perhaps you want to give your team members exposure and recognition. Maybe you want to plant seeds with the CEO to test the waters for your future plans. Whatever your goals are, plan the meeting so you make sure you get to them. The last slide should be titled "Next Steps" and include those to make sure everyone is talking about the same outcomes from the meeting.

 

3 - Start with a Summary - Start your meeting with an executive summary that covers the goals you and your audience have. If done well, it may be the only slide that you get to and lead to the outcomes you, and your audience, want. If you worry about your meeting going off on unexpected tangents, having a well crafted executive summary can help you get back to the main points of the presentation. If you are technically savvy, inserting hyperlinks in the on-screen presentation to navigate from and back to your executive summary can be a great way to keep the meeting on point.

 

4 - Standardize the Slides - If you treat every QBR as a new presentation, that will burn a lot of resources to produce the slides. Create a dashboard for your key metrics that you will show each time and just update the data. Where you don't have numbers, think about creating a stoplight chart of red, yellow, and green circles to show where things are tracking against expectations. Start each new QBR with the last version and just edit it with updates. Not only will that save you time, it will also train your audience on what to expect to see in these meetings. It will also focus your new slide creation to be just on the new goals you have for this meeting.

 

5 - Confirm the Attendees - One good thing about QBRs is that they can be scheduled far in advance so planned absences can be avoided. As you are scheduling it, ensure that all the right people from your side are committed to be there that day in-person. Principals only - don't let people send their deputies to represent them. If it is important enough for the CEO to be there, it is important enough for the team heads to be there in-person too. This is important to ensure accountability for the information being presented and to be able to commit to the next steps coming out of the meeting.

 

6 - Anticipate the Questions - You may not want to invest the time to do a trial run of your meeting, but it is worthwhile to anticipate the question that may arise. As you circulate the slides with your team in the preparation stage, encourage people to share the questions that come to their mind from the content. That will identify holes you need to fill and inconsistencies you need to fix. It can also make sure you figure out how to steer the conversation back to the goals that you and your audience have.

 

7 - Track the Follow-Up - Assign someone in the meeting with the duty of capturing the next steps that come out of the discussion - especially the requests coming from the CEO. Capture those on paper, a word processor, or a flip chart and share those with the group at the end of the meeting. That way everyone can agree on exactly what the next steps are and a deadline and accountable person for each. Once the meeting is over, send out those next steps as an email to all the attendees at the meeting. Assign someone to check in on the status of the next steps. Complete the circle by starting the next QBR with a reminder of the next steps from the last one and the results against each since then.

 

8 - Share the Story - Make your QBR a platform and reminder to regularly communicate about performance down through the rest of your organization. People want to hear how they are doing and how their work fits into the larger goals of the organization. You have just invested a lot of time to create your QBR, so use it to keep your rank and file connected too. You may want to simplify and edit the content before you share it more broadly. Introduce the content as a letter from the team leader and include appropriate comments from the CEO about the work of the team, especially the kudos.

 

The next time you are in a QBR, do this math equation in your head: (number of people in the meeting) x (average annual salary / 2,000) = the hourly salary cost of your QBR meeting. Like an iceberg, that will just be the cost you can see above the surface, so multiply that times maybe 5-10 to capture the hours spent preparing for the meeting. You may be surprised at the cost. These meetings are big investments, so taking the time to ensure they are effective can be a great investment too.

Categories: Meeting Effectiveness, Performance Management, Action Tracking