Guest post by Kevin Gaither

I know what you’re thinking “Are you out of your friggin’ mind? Weekly performance reviews? I hate doing performance reviews Annually, Semi-Annually or Quarterly and you’re suggesting doing them WEEKLY? No way.”

I hate Annual reviews too and that’s WHY I do weekly performance reviews. I actually call them “Coaching Sessions.” Here are three reasons and benefits you get by conducting weekly performance reviews.

1. You’ll gain TRUST with your reps
For me, it’s better to be trusted than to be liked by my reps. And by having these weekly coaching sessions devoted to THEM, I develop their trust by listening to them, showing them empathy and giving them mentorship. This is especially helpful if you’re managing any Gen Y. They LOVE these short sessions because you’re helping to guide their careers.

There’s a great HBR article that gets more into detail on this called Three Leadership Traits that Never Go Out of Style. You can’t develop any of these traits if you’re not talking with your reps on a regular basis.

2. You’re be able to calibrate EXPECTATIONS regularly
IMHO, I think that most managers do a horrible job of setting crystal clear expectations and then letting their salespeople know how they’re performing AGAINST those expectations. So if you DIDN’T do a good job of setting proper expectations when a rep started for you, you can take one of your weekly coaching sessions to set expectations around a whole host of topics (goals, performance, cross-functional communication, etc.).

People that work for you WANT to know where they stand and they don’t want to know once a year. These sessions are GREAT when you have a top-performing rep and you get to tell them EACH WEEK that they’re doing great and WHY you think they’re doing great (the “why” is key of course). They’re also effective when you’re dealing with a rep who is not doing well. Ever seen a rep be surprised when you’ve had to let him or her go for not performing well?

These blind spots are uncovered during the weekly coaching sessions by letting them know that they’re not meeting your expectations and you can develop a plan to help them meet/exceed your expectations moving forward.

3. You’re able to COVER YOUR BUTT with HR
Do you have a rep who is posing a problem? Not hitting goals? Harassing other employees? Demonstrating actions that are not in concert with your corporate culture and policies? Making lewd comments? Wearing inappropriate clothing? You MUST keep a running notepad for your weekly coaching sessions to write down the content of the conversations you’re having. Did you give them clear directives? What was it? Did you address a particular topic? What was it? How did the rep respond to the discussion?

In today’s litigious society, having several documented conversations in your notebook will make it easier for HR to help you take action where needed and reduce your OWN liability as a manager.

3.5 Annual reviews are EASIER

Guess what? I hate writing up annual reviews too. But if you have 50 of them during the year and write down the content of those short 30 minute sessions, you’ll have TONS of information that will help you support and substantiate most of the sections of the annual reviews.

Here’s a tip, write your notes during the coaching session in an email fashion with a subject line that would read something like “RE: K.C. Jones: Weekly Coaching Session 111512” and then send it to yourself and save it in their folder in your email. Then you can simply CUT and PASTE content from any of the 50 weekly coaching session emails into the annual reviews.

So do it today, book a weekly recurring Coaching Session on your calendar for each of your reps. Trust me from experience that if you spend the short amount of time each week with each of your reps, you’ll do wonders to improve the trust the rep has for you, calibrate expectations, cover your butt and make it easier to write that huge, dreaded annual review. And in the end, this will result in overall improved performance for your team.

Kevin Gaither (@kevinsgaither) is a hands-on Senior Sales Executive with an 18+ year track record of growing early-stage and multi-million dollar businesses. Proven success in attracting, retaining and leading top-performing teams focused on accelerating revenue growth. Recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in Inside Sales by AA-ISP in 2010, 2011 and 2012.