End of Season Performance Reviews – Making a difference or Making a mistake

End of Season Performance Reviews – Making a difference or Making a mistake

Spring is the season of re-newal, re-birth and re-generation.

And for many Australian sports – AFL, Rugby League, Netball and Rugby – spring is also the season of the Performance Re-view.

That time when players, coaches, management and staff sit down together and try to work out what went wrong, what went right and how to do it better next time around.

How do you make certain your end of season Performance Review makes  real difference to next season and is not a waste of time, energy and money?

  1. FEEDFORWARD – not FEEDBACK. Everyone talks about wanting feedback – but they are lying! No one really wants to be told what they did wrong in the past – what they want is feedforward – suggestions, ideas and direction on how to improve in the future. No one ever achieved success in the future by looking backwards. So don’t waste any time in your review by looking at the past season – it has gone!
  2. BENCHMARKonly to establish a starting point – not to copy. If you have to benchmark, do it only to establish a starting point – to be certain where the current level of best practice is – but only so you can do it better, smarter and more consistently than your opposition. Copying = failure in high performance sport.
  3. The last game of this season (and the review process) is the first game of next season. Use the end of this season and the review process to set the standards and behaviours for next season. If you are already lagging behind the c0mpetition, the earlier you start the continuous improvement process the better.
  4. Challenge without blame: engage without emotion. Performance reviews are often a waste of time because it becomes a game of blame and a commotion of emotion! No use crying over spilt milk or fighting over lost matches and missed opportunities. Seek the views, opinions and comments of everyone involved with the team without judgement, blame, emotion or finger pointing. Engage everyone in the review process but take the emotions, personality conflicts and pointless petty political conflicts out of the equation.
  5. Attention to detail – get the facts – eliminate the fiction. Performance reviews should be about what actually happened and not what the media, a few fans and a Board member thinks happened. The first step in every Performance review process is a commitment to data collection and the establishing of facts, evidence and a detailed, systematic analysis process.
  6. Be systematic – look at all the performance elements.  No one performance element can be totally responsible for the success or failure of the team. Look at coaches, players, facilities, management, sports science, sports medicine, rehab, resourcing and the other 2356 performance elements – in isolation and in combination.
  7. Change something. Change something. Change something. In high performance sport, the dumbest attitude of all is the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. History proves again and again that this year’s winning team is often the least likely team to win again next year – due primarily to the “if it ain’t broke…” attitude. Every team is moving forward – the name of the game is learning faster and changing faster than the opposition.
  8. Make decisions and communicate them clearly, concisely and immediately. Performance reviews are worrying times for all staff – particularly when they are accompanied by a major change, e.g. a new head coach, new CEO etc. All decisions and actions arising from the review process should be communicated quickly, clearly and appropriately to the people who are effected by them. Dismissals, retirements and retrenchments should be communicated in person, quietly, discretely, honestly, respectfully and with dignity.
  9. Build quality control systems and structures to ensure the effects of the changes you make are measured and that people have clear accountabilities and responsibilities for ensuring the changes are successfully implemented, i.e. actually impact on the performance of the team.
  10. Do what you say you are going to do. The purpose of doing a performance review is to accelerate the rate of change of the team and in doing so enhance the performance of the team next season. Talk is cheap – but winning comes from implementing consistent quality actions. Once you have gone through a detailed, thorough, professional review and made changes based on the findings – persist and persevere with them. Many teams will spend a fortune on their end of season review, make 1001 changes then go back to their old ways if they lose a few games early in the new season.

Performance Reviews: The Golden Rules:

  • Thorough, detailed and professional and based on real, accurate information and analysis;
  • Develop an intelligent, independent, review process – one which is systematic and methodical and devoid of personality and political influences;
  • Inclusive– every one’s opinion listened to, respected and valued;
  • Remove the emotion from the moment! – anger, blame and judgement do not lead to a quality review, good decision making or intelligent effective change management;
  • Do it now! – next season has already started!
  • Follow up – follow up – follow up:  Change is only as good as the commitment of people to implement the way it was intended.

Wayne Goldsmith


  • James Marshall Posted September 2, 2009 7:31 pm

    Nice post Wayne,
    the attention to detail bit is often missing in Coaching, normally due to time constraints, or lack of knowledge.

    I have found that too much detailed planning is often wasted as the situation changes immediately after you have finished the plan.
    But detail in execution is essential.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted September 3, 2009 11:48 am

      Thanks James.

      I have been involved in many end of season reviews over the years and most of them fail because they become based on emotion, hearsay, anecdotes and personal opinion rather than on accurate data, systematic analysis and open, honest, rational, objective, professional review processes.

      You would think it is common sense but didn’t someone once say, “the thing with common sense is that it is not all that common” – certainly applies to most reviews I have seen over the years.



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