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What Is a High-Level Overview & Why Does It Matter? 

August 22, 2022
5 min read

Performance management is a critical component of a company‘s operations, and it comes in many forms. It gives managers and employees a chance to discuss expectations, review data, evaluate overall performance, and engage in follow-ups. One form of this ongoing dialogue between managers and employees is the high-level overview.

A high-level overview provides an overall picture or summary of an employee's performance, development, growth, and motivation. It typically occurs in a one-on-one meeting, and many companies hold them annually. This type of meeting can be formal or informal, depending on the specific organization. 

However you choose to conduct your high-level overview, it’s essential to prepare and execute them effectively to keep your team members on track with their personal and organizational goals. Below, Poised explains the high-level overview meaning in more detail and shows you how to maximize their potential.

What Happens in a High-Level Overview?

During a high-level overview, the manager assesses the employee’s work performance, homes in on strengths and weaknesses, provides feedback, and establishes goals for future performance.

These assessments are also referred to as performance appraisals, performance evaluations, and performance reviews. However, a high-level overview generally covers fewer specific details than a low-level performance review; think of it as a snapshot of an employee’s performance at the highest level.

Now, more organizations are implementing performance management systems that involve frequent feedback and ongoing dialogue about employee performance. It’s common for a business to conduct quarterly, monthly, or weekly overviews. Some organizations are eliminating formal reviews entirely and adopting casual manager one-on-ones and check-ins.

For decades, many companies held annual performance reviews for all their staff, but this is no longer considered the best practice by many. The annual performance review is being swapped for more frequent conversations — often the quarterly review. One consultant reported that quarterly reviews (instead of annual ones) increased engagement by 10%

A well-executed high-level overview shows employees what they’re doing well, where they can improve, what the company expects of them, and how their job role aligns with the organization’s overarching goals.

When you plan and execute performance reviews effectively, it’s easy to identify high-performing team members, fix problems before they become unmanageable, establish expectations, keep employees engaged, and foster growth and development.

Reviewing Key Aspects of Performance

High-level overviews center on reviewing and assessing essential elements of an employee's performance compared to the company's established performance measurement standards. Most of these meetings end with performance planning between the manager and the employee, which involves discussing expectations, performance standards, objectives, and goals for the coming weeks and months.

When planning your high-level overviews, list the key responsibilities of each employee and include a snapshot of their performance since the last meeting. Remember to focus on the big picture and run the meeting without getting lost in the details. 

It’s also important to gauge your overall communication performance as you speak with employees about their job roles. The Poised communication coach will monitor key metrics, give you an overall score, and provide real-time suggestions for improvements. 

Providing Constructive Feedback

Giving your employees constructive feedback is crucial because it puts them on the fast track to growth. It’s all about mellowing out the negatives with positives. Keep your feedback problem-focused and specific. You can’t tell a team member about an area they need to improve without telling them why. 

For example, if an employee has been arriving to work late, don’t assume they understand why punctuality is essential to your organization. Explain the problem at hand; maybe it’s hindering their team members’ productivity or leading to missed sales opportunities.

Also, focus your feedback on the situation instead of the individual. Constructive feedback concentrates on impartial observations and outcomes, not the employee’s personal attributes. You want to avoid making the individual feel attacked on a personal level; stick to objective facts and bring the conversation back around to how the employee fits in the organizational puzzle.

Expressing Potential Concerns 

You may run into situations where you’re concerned about potential problems that haven’t fully developed. Addressing these concerns before they become insurmountable will help keep your team members and company on track.

This is another scenario where it’s essential to provide the team member with specifics. Say, for instance, that an employee has been taking longer than normal to complete their daily tasks. 

You could point out their declining efficiency and express your concern about it negatively impacting their career and the overall team's performance. As with any type of feedback, be sure to allow the employee to tell their point of view and try to keep the conversation positive.

Praising Strengths and Achievements

Providing positive feedback is just as important as bringing light to concerns. It’s easy for us to focus on the negative aspects of our own performance so much that we don’t see what we’re doing well. Remember that when conducting high-level overviews with your team members.

List specific tasks and actions that the employee is executing well; this will encourage the person and motivate them to keep growing. It can also show them that you haven’t lost perspective.

For example, you might tell one of your sales reps how well they did on a specific account and back up the praise by revealing that sales are up 12% in the current quarter. Giving praise where it’s due proves to the employee that you’re not criticizing their performance on the whole but only specific aspects that need attention.

Tracking Progress on Active Goals

For managers and employees to be on the same page about what constitutes good or poor performance, you must clearly communicate performance criteria. This guideline helps you and your team members measure impact, define success specific to the job role, evaluate how performance plans are working, and determine the next steps.

During each high-level overview, discuss the goals the employee is currently pursuing and how those goals relate to the overall success of the company. Look at specific metrics within the department’s methodologies to determine whether the individual is on pace, falling behind, or exceeding expectations.

Setting Goals for the Future

Along with tracking active goals, remember to use your high-level overviews to establish goals for the future. Speak with the employee about where the company needs to get to and how the employee fits into the puzzle.

Then, work through the employee’s concerns and discuss the areas in which they are most confident to determine specific goals they should pursue to move the organization in the right direction

How Do You Conduct Better Employee Overviews?

Running effective employee overviews starts with preparation. Both you and your team members should take time to prepare for upcoming reviews to position your sales for success.

Be sure to prepare notes that outline key topics, goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Ensure you and your employees conduct self-assessments and brainstorm examples of how both of you have met or exceeded goals since the last overview meeting.

You can also incorporate Enneagram Test insights into your performance review meetings to tailor your communication strategies to resonate with each individual's personality type, ultimately fostering a more productive and harmonious work environment. Remember, effective communication is the bridge that leads to mutual understanding and growth for both employees and employers.

Practice Active Listening

When it comes to the actual employee overview, make sure the conversation runs both ways. Your job as a manager is to facilitate dialogue and actively listen. This will help you comprehend your employees on a deeper level instead of simply giving them equal speaking time.

Remember to ask follow-up questions to dig deeper into issues and paint a full picture of the employee’s performance and concerns. And try to tap into the other person's emotions. Understanding how they are feeling can help you communicate with empathy and, ultimately, run a more productive meeting. 

Further, paraphrase what you heard after your team member gives their feedback. This will help you confirm that you accurately understood what they said while showing the person that you genuinely care about their point of view. Whatever you do, don’t spend all of your listening time mentally preparing your response because that makes it impossible for you to actively listen!

Adjust Your Body Language

Paying attention to your body language can help you communicate more effectively during high-level overviews. Be mindful of not demonstrating closed-off body language, such as crossing your arms or legs, and don’t spend all of your listening time looking away from the speaker. 

Focus on maintaining an open, inviting posture and keep eye contact through most of the employee’s speaking time. This will show that you are not only interested in what the person is saying but that you welcome their opinions, ideas, and feelings.

Work on Building Trust and Rapport

Actively listening and demonstrating that you care about what your team members think will go a long way in developing trust and rapport. However, you also want to sharpen your communication skills to ensure you convey your message concisely, clearly, and professionally. 

The Poised communication coach can help you minimize your filler words and avoid grammatical errors that might make you appear incompetent. You get real-time feedback on all the most important communication metrics so you can improve your delivery on the spot.

Avoid Tangents and Side Conversations

Finally, avoid small talk and tangents during high-level overviews. If necessary, dedicate a couple of minutes before each review begins to catch up on life with the other person. Once the meeting starts, stay on track so that you cover all the topics and concerns on the agenda.

Get Real-Time Communication Coaching With Poised

High-level overviews come in different forms, and your company must find a framework that meets your organizational needs and keeps your team members on the right track.

Keep the tips and information above in mind as you determine the best approach for planning and executing your employee overviews, and continue learning how to guide your employees through challenges. And set your team up for success by incorporating the Poised communication coach into your virtual meetings! 


How To Provide Effective Feedback by Listening More and Talking Less, According to a Social Scientist | Business Insider

How To Set Goals That Move Your Company Forward | The Business Journals

What Are Listening Skills? | The Balance

Annual Performance Review Bows Out | SHRM

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