Don’t Fear the Performance Review!

We know we need to recruit the right people and train them well.  Once these people are in place, we need a tool to help monitor performance, set development goals, determine who should be promoted, and how to compensate our people.   Most companies turn to performance reviews to help manage all this.   

A performance review sounds like a great tool, right? Then why do employees and supervisors alike tend to think of performance reviews as a “necessary evil?”  One reason is the employee is unsure of what the supervisor is going to say and the supervisor is unsure of how the employee will take their comments.  So what usually happens when both parties are dreading the experience? It doesn’t go well! 

Both supervisors and employees need to change their perspective and see the performance review for what it is – a great tool that summarizes the past year and a tool that can be used as a stepping stone for the next 12 months. 

Here are 4 tips to help improve the performance review process:

  1. Establish clear job responsibilities. The job responsibilities and goals should be very clear to both the employee and supervisor at the beginning of the appraisal period.  The employee should understand the appraisal process. Feedback should be based on objective and measurable performance criteria as well as observable behavior.
  2. Hold “mini” reviews. Meet on a regular basis to discuss the work and projects.   The advantage of these “mini” review sessions is that there will be no surprises during the final review.   The employee also has an opportunity to verify what is going well and to “tweak” performance that isn’t going well.  The final review meeting is easy since it’s simply a summary of the “mini” reviews.  
  3. Offer constructive feedback. There are no perfect people and the appraisal process is worthless if supervisors aren’t willing to share improvement areas along with strengths.  How can you provide constructive feedback the employee will be open to receiving?  Give specific examples so the employee understands and talk about steps the employee can take to improve.   Employees who want to develop to their full potential will be open to constructive feedback and will ask “what can I do differently next time?”
  4. Talk and listen. The performance review meeting needs to be interactive.  Supervisors should ask questions and listen to what the employee tells them.   Employees should be willing to discuss their thoughts on their own performance and to help set goals for the upcoming year.     

When employees and supervisors see the review process as a tool to enhance performance it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Tell me about your appraisal review process.  Do you have additional tips we should add to our list?

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