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Dos and Don’ts of Performance Reviews

Investment by GritHR Solutions

Both employees and managers dread performance reviews. However, the way you conduct a review has a great impact on the motivation of employees and their overall engagement. If you do not conduct the review effectively, the employee may feel undervalued and unappreciated for their hard work. 

Effective performance reviews provide positive feedback. This feedback allows the employee to improve and grow over time rather than seeming confrontational. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Performance Reviews 

9 out of 10 managers are dissatisfied with the way performance reviews are conducted in their organization (Source). A 2014 research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 25% of cases employees quit their job because their efforts are not acknowledged appropriately in the performance review (Source). 

Not every performance review can only highlight the positives, especially in the case of an underperforming employee. The way you address the not-so-good can also have a positive impact on those who are not performing well. It also gives an even greater boost to good employees. 

Here are some critical dos and don’ts of performance reviews that help deliver the message in the best way possible: 

Do: Plan Beforehand 

If a manager conducts a performance review without any prior planning of what they need to address, they often end up giving generalized feedback. This is especially true if the manager has a larger team. 

As a manager, you should start by assessing the employee’s job description. Then, review any goals set in previous performance reviews, and the employee’s progress throughout the year. For every point, be it positive or negative, gathering specific examples to include a great way to give specific feedback that is far more effective.    

Planning how to approach the “what’s next” question is also important since the manager should be well aware of the upcoming projects, the scope of the work, and where the employee stands. 

Do: Have Employees Complete a Self-Evaluation 

Prior to the performance meeting, a good practice is to provide the employee with a self-evaluation form to complete. This allows the employee to be prepared to discuss their objectives from last time and their own performance. 

Questions about their ability to follow instructions, work ethic, and performance should be included in this form. It is important to encourage the employee to fill the form as honestly. This form can be used to help set goals for the upcoming year. 

Once the evaluation of the employee and that of the manager are side by side, then finding the differences is the next step. It can be helpful to have the employee turn in their self-evaluation prior to the meeting; allowing the manager time to review the form. If there is a huge discrepancy in the expectations of the employee from themselves and their evaluation of work, it might raise some points that need to be discussed. Expectations need to be properly set and the employee needs to be clearly shown the path they can follow to meet their expectations. 

Don’t: Do All the Talking 

Since the manager is the one delivering the performance review, it can easily turn into a one-sided conversation where the manager does all the talking. Even though performance reviews are all about delivering feedback, input from the employee is necessary because during performance reviews. As a manger, you may gain insight into issues that the employee or team might be facing. 

A one-sided conversation means that the goals being set for the upcoming year are not based on the employee’s career goals. It is important to engage in a two-way conversation to collaborate, establish exactly what went wrong and decide how to address it. 

Do: Begin on a Positive Note 

Even if a performance review does not have a lot of positives, it is important to start on a positive note. This will make the employee feel less anxious and they are less likely to become defensive. 

This strategy is best because it makes the employee feel that their efforts are valued and acknowledged. If the meeting has a calm environment from the beginning, the employee will likely participate enthusiastically in the goal development processes for the next year. Remember, most employees want to perform well. Sometimes, they just need extra guidance in how to do so.

Do: Quote Specific Examples 

A performance review that leaves employees confused is the worst. It is highly ineffective at improving performance and makes employees feel unvalued. As an example, just telling an employee that they need to perform better in client management is too vague. Even if that is a specific area that needs improvement. Instead, provide specific examples of when the employee did not deal with a client tactically. This will help the employee understand exactly what is expected of them. It also encourages the employee to be involved in developing solutions. You can even share the exact behavior you expect. 

Do: Discuss Solutions Jointly 

Once the employee knows exactly what the problem is, they should be involved in discussing the solutions. The employees who will develop goals for themselves are bound to attain them since they exactly know what needs to be improved. 

Employees might suggest that they need additional training, or involvement of a team member to attain their goals. As such, a joint discussion will yield better output than a performance review in which the manager just assigns the roles and develops the goals. After all, the execution and attainment of the goal is the responsibility of the employee, not the manager.   

Don’t: Forget to Ask for Feedback 

A 360-degree approach to performance reviews is better than a unidirectional approach. This means that in the performance review, the employee should also give feedback they have for the manager in a constructive way. 

In many cases getting feedback from the employee reveals concerns or issues the manager can easily solve. For example, some employees might like to get consistent feedback on their work which can be incorporated by the manager. This will also make employees feel valued, especially when they see their suggestions being put into action. 

Do: Keep a Record of the Performance Meetings 

Performance review records are quite important when comparing past performance. It can even help in deciding which employees deserve a promotion or a raise. It can be also beneficial to look at what had been discussed previously and whether or not progress has been made.

Records are also valuable in comparing the employee’s performance over time, whether it has improved for the better or declined. If the records indicate a decline in performance, other tactics need to be adopted to identify why the employee is failing. Then, as a manager, you will need to address the concerns to help the employee get back on track. 

Don’t: Discuss Reviews with Others 

Discussing the performance review of one employee with another, you create distrust between the employee and the manager.  

The performance reviews should be confidential between the manager and employee. Discussing and comparing with others can also lead to unnecessary office drama or politics. It can also create a negative work environment that hits employee motivation levels. 

Summing it Up 

Performance management meetings are a time-old but effective way to deliver feedback. Performance meetings have evolved as a way for managers and employees to give and receive feedback. It is also an opportunity to indulge a collaborative and open discussion about experiences, expectations, and concerns. 

Before conducting performance reviews, managers must be trained regarding the dos and don’ts of it. This is because performance reviews conducted carelessly can result in an increase in turnover as well as reduced morale amongst the employees. So, the aforementioned valuable tips can bring the best out of performance reviews. If you are unsure of where to start in the employee review process, the HR professionals at GritHR Solutions are available to help.  

 

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