The Importance of Performance Reviews at Micro-Enterprise Levels

AdminCoaching & Leadership, Employee Performance Reviews, HR Technology

Start-Up or Fed-Up?

Sprigg Talent Management is on a mission to wake people up who think: “Performance Reviews are for Big Companies” or “Performance Reviews Don’t Work” or “Performance Reviews are Broken” or my personal favorite (insert sarcasm): “Get Rid of the Performance Review” Excuse Me?  “Get Rid of…?”

I am going to come back to the “Get Rid of…” topic on another day as it will no doubt send me into a “Rick’s-Rant” (reference: The Mercer Report’s+Rants/ or the U.S. version: Julia-Sugarbaker-Rant – ref: Designing Women – old TV sit-com).  But before I leave this particular topic…don’t do it, don’t get rid of it, simply change how you approach it and in my next article, I’ll tell you how.

Back to our subject at hand, the Sprigg Mission, which is multi-purposeful, yet today I would like to focus on the absurdity of the thinking: “Performance Reviews are for Big Companies.”  You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many times I’ve heard that comment from small business owners.  And “small business” by the way is actually defined by Industry Canada as “less than 100 or 1 to 99 employees”  There are sub-categories like contractors, self-employed and all on its own are “Micro-Enterprises” with 1 – 4 employees.

I’ve been at this gig for close to 25 years and so, I’ve seen lots of HR trends and HR hot-topics come and go…lots.  But a few HR subjects like Compensation Strategies, Recruitment Systems and Performance Reviews have sustained their discussion-worthy status year over year and why is that?  Because they’re important, that’s why.

Now, let me offer some perspective on the Performance Review at the small business level (which…you guessed it…translates quite easily as a process to medium and large businesses…it’s just more people. Simple.)


Somewhere along the way small business people adapted the thinking that because they are so small, they shouldn’t do performance reviews.  Or…nobody has time to do it because we’re so focused on growth. The single biggest reason is a hangover. That’s right, a hangover from the previous system someone made them do in a previous life…and I do mean, “made them do.”  It was complicated, administratively intensive and so fraught with HR jargon it made them crazy. They resisted and even resented it and vowed: “one day…when I have my own company, I will abandon this crap.”  And so they did.

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s a mistake and a big one.  If you think about the small business landscape where survival is the focus in early days, why wouldn’t you want to offer clarity to who does what and how well they do it?  That’s all a Performance Review is by the way…clarity of roles, direction and course-correction when people fall short from delivering on the expectations.  It’s really a name change to Performance Accountability and since you own your own business you get to call it what you want. Some people call it a conversation.

It doesn’t need to be difficult; it just needs to be effective. Performance discussions aren’t personal character attacks so why are so many people nervous about them?  They’re metric-driven discussions on what’s getting done and what isn’t.  They also unload a ton of uncertainty and guesswork for the small-yet-mighty teams of less than four.

Most small business owners think: “we work so closely on the day-to-day, why bother?”  Wrong again. Most micro-businesses are a flutter with work-load volume issues and often four people are doing the work of ten or more.  You aren’t talking with your employees; you’re giving them short-bursts of your attention. The rest…they make assumptions on what to do next and they’re often off-strategy about it…not their fault.  If they had some carved-out time for a performance-related conversation on what you need from them and how they can access you for answers…you will have cracked some light into the eternal question every employee asks themselves: “I wonder how I’m doing?”

I guess in the end, I’m saying it really doesn’t matter what size company you are, I just believe it’s even more important when you’re that micro-industry of 1 – 4 employees. So, at Sprigg (which is an acronym: “Successful People Reviewing and Improving Goals and Growth” AND is symbolic of growth (very cool brand J) we want to say: “Get in touch! We can work with you to help your people achieve and your company grow”.