The performance review. Who doesn’t love them — am I right? We hate to get them because who wants to get negative feedback. We hate to give them because they often just involve checking boxes and don’t provide any real feedback. In reality, performance reviews “should” be unnecessary – IF you are communicating with your employees on a regular basis. Providing feedback – both positive and negative – when you catch someone “in the act” is often more effective than the annual sit-down meeting.
That said, the performance review continues to be a staple of most company’s workforce plan. Generally, they are used to justify (or deny) merit increases and promotions. They can also protect the company legally and if done effectively motivate the employees.
While most companies have a specific structure for how and when to handle an employee review that usually tackles the “what” of the meeting. Here are a few “hows” that may help you conduct a more effective review:
- Plan ahead – Know what course of action you intend to take before you sit down with the employee. Take the time to review their performance over the past period of review so you can provide specific examples of behavior. And, plan on the outcome – what do you hope to accomplish in this review?
- Be Specific – for goodness sakes do not depend on your memory when bringing up examples of behavior or performance. Why? Because we all remember things differently (remember the old game of telephone? If not, google it.) It would be best if you had specific examples in writing. This will lessen any confusion and allow you to focus on the goals of the meeting.
- The good and the bad – Let’s leave the ugly out of this. An effective performance review should end up benefitting the employee by showing them examples of performance that both enhances and is a detriment to the organization. However, keep in mind that people tend to only remember the negative so be careful how you phrase things. Do not lump positive and negative together. When you say “That was great what you did here, but…” they will only hear the “but”.
- Measure intangibles – People are complicated. They bring many skills to a situation. Not all of them are measurable. If you are into sports you’ve heard the terms like “good in the clubhouse” or “he’s a glue guy”. This points out how someone brings quality to the team that enhances their potential. Look for those intangibles in the employee to spotlight and highlight.
- Communicate – An effective performance review should be a discussion, not a lecture. Allow the employee to express themselves. Encourage their feedback on the organization. Also, have them self-evaluate when possible. Doing this can establish trust and create a sense of ownership and pride in the company.
Clearly, this is a wide topic with a lot of moving parts. However, hopefully, the above ideas will help you as you approach review season.
What techniques and tools have you used to conduct an effective performance review? Please share in the comments section below.