Giving an Effective Performance Review
A Performance Review is a one-on-one meeting between employer and employee to discuss and reflect on job performance, professional growth, salary changes and expectations for the following year. It is designed to assess the accomplishments and shortcomings of each employee over the course of the previous year, and to set goals and expectations for the upcoming year. These are meant to be simple meetings that promote higher work ethic and productivity, yet studies have shown that both employees and employers frequently find them to be inconsistent, potentially confrontational, and non-productive. As the owner of a company, you need to be able to conduct effective meetings that will reinforce positive performances, readdress poor choices, and leave both you and your employees feeling satisfied and content.
As the manager, you need to understand every job description and what each employee does to meet these goals. Do they consistently hand in half-finished reports, but thrive in public speaking? Do they get flustered on conference calls but flourish at answering emails? This may seem like a lot to add to your ever-growing plate, but it’s a key step when getting ready to conduct performance reviews. As the owner, you should know your company inside and out, and this includes areas where your employees thrive and struggle. The more specific you can be when giving these reports, the more useful it will be to your employees, which will give them a better chance at succeeding. Know what motivates your employees, keeping in mind that each person could be motivated by something different. Someone who is motivated by money will appreciate a concrete list at what they should accomplish in order to gain a raise or bonus, while other employees are driven by recognition or approval. A couple of weeks before the meeting have each employee create a list of accomplishments or things they are proud of that were completed over the year. Use this information to refresh your memory, and better understand what that employee considers to be an achievement.
The number one complaint from employees is that this meeting is stressful, and strictly about negative performances. Keep in mind that many view this as a stressful meeting to sit and get judged, and have their failures openly discussed. Try to make your employees as comfortable as possible. Chances are, your employee will be extremely nervous, and counting the minutes until the meeting is over. The best thing you can do? Change from the office location. You sitting behind a desk can make an employee feel like he/she is getting in trouble by the principal. Get lunch, or at least move to a conference table, sitting on the same side, so you are more eye-to-eye, and appear as equals.
To get the most out of performance reviews from a business aspect, the best thing you can do is be specific. Highlight exactly what you want changed, kept the same, or ditched. Make sure the employees leave knowing what they are doing right and wrong, and eliminate all confusion. Make it as positive as you can, but don’t offer general feedback, or sugarcoated information. Be clear about what you expect. Keep in mind that this is meant for you and your employees to get the most of their job. They need to leave feeling positive about their future with you, and know that their decision to be a part of your company was the right choice.
Check back in often after these meetings occur. Look for employees to begin to make the discussed changes, and begin finding examples to use in next year’s meeting. Checking-in eliminates surprises and disagreements for the following year, reinforces what you previously discussed, and allows you to make new changes in a more timely matter. Consider holding bi-annual reviews, or at least regular meetings to register the changes that are or are not being made. This way, you don’t have to wait until next year to implement modifications.