Performance reviews are a part of the work experience that’s often dreaded by both managers and employees. However, performance reviews can and should be a meaningful, helpful experience – both for the manager, the employee and the team.
A performance review should be more than just a task to mark off your to-do list. As a manager, you can transform your review process into an effective way to improve employee performance and satisfaction. Time spent on performance reviews is an investment in your workforce.
Below are 5 tips conducting effective performance reviews. Follow these suggestions to turn performance reviews into a meaningful – and maybe even enjoyable – process.
1. Be prepared
An effective performance review requires significant preparation. Start with the job description and your company’s goals for the role. Gather data about the employee’s performance throughout the year, including performance metrics, manager notes, attendance records and any disciplinary documentation. You should also aim to include other information like standout accomplishments or customer feedback.
You also need a process in place to formally document the review. If your company doesn’t have a set performance management system (though they likely do), combine your data and notes into a file to keep it organized. Make you allow the employee can make comments and acknowledge the review, either electronically or in writing. You can also create and refer to a list of talking points to use during the performance conversation.
2. Pick a good time and place
A performance review should be a private conversation between you and your employee. Plan to meet in an office or area that is away from customers and other employees. Select the day and time, and tell the employee well in advance. Avoid lunchtime and other busy times of day, and make sure you allot enough time for a meaningful conversation. When you pick the time and place with care, you create an environment that’s more conducive to a good review, and you let your employees know that the review process is important to you and to the company.
3. Seek out the employee’s perspective
Your feedback is an important part of the review process, but so is the employee’s evaluation of his or her own performance. In some companies, employees are required to complete a self-assessment as part of the performance review. If it’s not included in your current process, consider adding it.
When you ask an employee for information on their own performance, it encourages them to take part in the process. But keep in mind that this process may seem scary to some employees. If the practice is new to your organization, you may want to start by simply asking employees to make a list of recent accomplishments and goals for the future.
4. Make sure there are no surprises
Even the most seasoned employees are often nervous going into performance reviews. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to put each employee at ease. Set expectations by summarizing the purpose of the conversation, but keep it brief. Prompt your employee to go first by asking them to recap their top contributions. Listen closely, and ask questions so that you are both engaged in the conversation – and encourage them to ask questions and respond to your feedback.
Another thing to remember? You should never surprise an employee with negative feedback at a performance review – if you are, you’re not doing your job as a manager. Be sure to give employees feedback and make them aware any performance issues long before the actual performance review takes place.
5. Stay on track
There’s a lot to cover during performance reviews – and if you manage a lot of employees, you may not have a ton of time with each of them. Make sure the review stays on track by referring to a list of talking points or issues to address. If the employee leaves out information that you believe to be important, bring it up. Employees may be hesitant to initiate a discussion of negative issues themselves, so be prepared to prompt them about any concerns they have.
When possible, close the meeting on a positive note. Allow for time to discuss future opportunities for development or new responsibilities. Ask your employee how you can help them reach their career goals. When an employee leaves a performance review, he should have a clear idea of how well he is meeting current expectations, as well as understand the requirements for ongoing performance.
The takeaway? Treat each employee’s review as an important task, and take time to prepare. Plan ahead so that you are comfortable with the environment, as well as with the messages that you need to share. Build your review skills, and you can turn a performance assessment into an interactive and productive conversation with your employee. Both you and your employees will benefit from and be happier with the performance review process.
Abby Perkins is Managing Editor at Talent Tribune, a data-driven blog dedicated to all things HR.