How to Measure Product Manager Performance: The Ultimate Guide to Year-End Reviews

here's a guide covering everything you need to know about how to conduct a performance review

Are you a first-time Product Manager dealing with your first go at conducting the annual performance appraisals for your team? Maybe you’re looking to set expectations for your team but don’t know how to measure Product Manager performance. Even though conventional yearly performance evaluations are beginning to phase out, they are still an ever-present aspect at many companies. You’ll encounter them yourself as a Product Manager, and you’ll be conducting them for your team as well.

To ensure you’re keeping up with your own goals and the performance expectations set by your leadership, here’s a guide covering everything you need to know about how to measure Product Manager performance.

Everything You Need to Know About Product Manager Performance Reviews

A Product Manager performance review is a formal evaluation in which your direct supervisor will assess your job performance, recognize your strengths and flaws, provide comments, and establish performance goals for the future. 

An increasing number of businesses are shifting to a frequent feedback performance management system in which managers do quarterly, monthly, or even weekly evaluations. In some businesses, formal performance assessments are being phased out in favor of more informal management check-ins and one-on-ones. But while it’s less likely that you’ll encounter a yearly performance review, it still makes to understand how your performance is being measured, as ell as how to go through the appraisal.

When done correctly, a performance review can inform team members what they’re doing well, how they can improve, how their work fits into the bigger business goals, and what is expected of them. 

As a Product Manager, when you properly conduct a performance review, you can more readily identify high-performing staff, address issues before they become insurmountable, communicate expectations, promote growth and development, and build employee engagement and rapport.

How to Prepare for a Yearly Performance Review

There are several ways you can prepare yourself and your team before you actually sit down at the table (regardless of whether it’s formal or informal) to give a performance review. Here are the steps to get everyone on the same page:

Prep Your Team to Come with Questions and Notes

Before each performance evaluation, encourage staff to take notes. Employees should be able to raise questions during performance evaluations in a secure setting. Preparing questions ahead of time can assist in guaranteeing that all of the necessary questions are asked. Along with their list of questions, they should write down the subjects they wish to address and their strengths, shortcomings, and objectives.

Have Employees Conduct a Self-Evaluate

Employees should give themselves a mock performance evaluation to practice self-evaluation. Employees should provide specific instances of how they have met or exceeded goals set at the previous review and how they have progressed in general. You should also learn how to measure Product Manager performance and set yourself the same task.

Prepare Your KPIs Ahead of Time

Whether this is your first time or your hundredth, you should have your performance criteria in front of you. Also, don’t shy away from sharing the KPIs you’ll be using to measure the performance appraisal with your employees.

Maintain an Ongoing List of Your Team’s Success

In a perfect world, we’d keep track of all the positive and terrible things staff did throughout the course of the year. As managers, we have a short-term memory and can probably only recall the most recent action taken by an employee. Even in this instance, we as humans tend only to remember the negative aspect. We undoubtedly don’t recall some of their accomplishments from six months ago. 

To mitigate this short-sightedness, make a list of your team’s successes, including the projects they worked on, product deliveries, and targets met.

How to Conduct a Performance Appraisal

Once you’re ready to sit down and give the performance appraisal, it’s vital that you conduct the meeting with the gravitas that it deserves. Even if the review has an informal air about it, it can severely impact the livelihood of the employee on the other side of the table at the end of the day. So, when giving a performance review, both the employee and the manager are expected to take it seriously. 

However, because management is giving the review and has the authority to impact the employee’s career significantly, they bear a significant portion of the responsibility for keeping things civil and productive

To assist in preserving a healthy workplace, here are a few tips on conducting the performance appraisal:

Only Address Meaningful Critiques

When addressing areas that need improvement, it’s critical that, as the appraiser, you provide critiques with clear examples. Rather than making an employee defensive, setting an example and giving suggestions for improvement might enhance their performance.

If you find it uncomfortable to critique, you can try the sandwich method of placing their shortfall between two areas that they excel in. However, you need to ensure that they understand they will need to address their shortcomings.

Conversely, if you find yourself all-to-willing to levy critiques, you will need to mitigate this behavior to ensure your employee’s ego isn’t too battered. If their performance doesn’t warrant a dismissal, you don’t want them to leave the meeting considering a change of employment would be for the better.

Focus Solely on the Employee in Front of You

It’s an easy, yet fruitless, crutch to use coworkers as benchmarks for success or failure. Concentrate solely on the performance of the individual being evaluated.

Provide Only Genuine Praise

While it’s essential to find something pleasant to say in every performance evaluation, offering false praise will encourage employees to believe they’re doing better than they are, robbing them of the chance to grow.

Be Upfront About Expectations

If you’re conducting a performance appraisal that won’t result in a pay hike, don’t hide it. If an employee enters the review with expectations for a raise or promotion that may or may not be achievable leads to unneeded speculation and disappointment.

Go Over Their Progress and Discuss How to Advance Their Career

Discuss their career intentions with them in person and assist them in identifying particular actions that will help them accomplish their objectives. 

There’s an old management maxim that says you should be grooming your replacement. Your current coworkers are most likely the greatest prospects to take over your position. Going over these details will not only help them achieve their long-term goals but you as well. 

Talk about where your workers want to go in a few years and offer them specific advice on how to get there.

Top 7 Performance Indicators for Yearly Reviews

Here are the primary indicators an employee’s performance appraisal should be measured against: 

  1. Knowledge of Work — Evaluate the employee’s current skill level regarding all of the work phases, noting areas of excellence and areas that require improvement.
  2. Communication — Measure the employee’s ability to listen and voice opinions, both verbally and written constructively.
  3. Teamwork — Review how well the employee gets along and effectively cooperates with the work environment.
  4. Problem-Solving — Measure the employee’s ability to effectively identify and decide on a course of action when confronted with a problem.
  5. Expense Management — Evaluate the employee’s ability to stay within budget. 
  6. Human Resource Management — Rate the employee’s ability to delegate responsibility and how they can effectively assign the right task to the right team member.
  7. Independent Action — Evaluate the employee’s ability to take the initiative when approaching a product.

Self-Evaluation: How to Measure Product Manager Performance

The most excellent Product Managers evaluate their own performance regularly. Using the above criteria, you can deduce how you’re performing within your respective role. 

Failure teaches us far more than success. Therefore product managers who reflect and accept responsibility for learning from their mistakes are more likely to strive for more remarkable improvement than those who do not.

By performing the review of yourself, you can also determine which indicators are helpful for qualifying your company’s performance appraisal. If you find that the metric didn’t accurately reflect the progress toward a goal, you can adjust it before bringing it before an employee.

Product managers who combine internal retrospection with a focus on effect will constantly enhance their leverage and capacity to have an influence; this is a significant predictor of whether they live up to the confidence placed in them by their businesses.

Still Have Questions?

If you are still unsure about how best to measure your performance or set goals, don’t put off getting the advice you need. We would love to have a conversation with you about your career plans and Product Manager goals. Get the support you need with our community group for Product Managers and product management job hunters.

When you’re ready to take the next step towards your Product Manager performance goals, schedule a free coaching call with one of our in-house career coaches. We’d love to be part of your game plan for success.

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