August 13, 2020    |    By

Everyone knows the feeling of dread that settles in the pit of their stomach when they hear the words employee performance review. Even those employees who spend the year going above and beyond get that little knot. It is the feeling of being judged and found lacking. This doesn’t have to happen to your staff if you take time to focus on how you can go about conducting these reviews in a fair, humane manner. Let’s take a look at some ways to make your employee performance reviews less stressful and more productive.

The Purpose of A Performance Review

Despite what your employees think, the purpose of the performance review is not to find fault. It is meant to help each employee understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Once they understand these things, they can then work to use those strengths to increase productivity and strengthen their performance. The performance evaluation is meant to be a positive tool that helps everyone.

Best Practices In Conducting A Performance Review

There are several different ways to make the most of your employee performance evaluations. You don’t simply call an employee in and say things like “Good job” or “You need to pick up the slack”. In keeping with the ultimate purpose of the evaluation, you will be more successful by following a few key guidelines.

Plan Ahead

You will be more convincing if you go into the meeting prepared. Take time to gather as much information as possible on the employee. Take note of examples you can refer to that actually pertain to the individual. By showing the employee exactly what you are discussing, you will be more helpful.

Avoid Distraction

During an actual performance review, try to avoid as many distractions as possible. You want the employee to feel that you are doing this as a benefit. For that to be possible, you need to concentrate on the task at hand. Turn off phones and make sure the office door is closed and there is some kind of notification stating you don’t want to be disturbed. Don’t schedule anything close to the time you will be giving the performance reviews. This way, you won’t feel rushed and will have time for questions if the employee has any.

Schedule Performance Reviews Throughout The Year

Performance reviews shouldn’t be scheduled only once a year. That only creates more of a problem. If the reviews are scheduled several times throughout the year, you can achieve two things more easily. First, your employees are less stressed because the reviews are more familiar. Secondly, if there is a problem, getting it out in the open and evaluating progress are both easier when there is less time elapsed. Don’t hesitate to schedule an impromptu evaluation when the situation is a serious one. Take care of severe problems as quickly as possible. So, what should you include in an employee performance review? Let’s take a look.

Discuss The Main Points Of A Performance Review

A performance review can contain many different things, but be sure you cover the points that are most important to job performance for both your company and your employee, which include the following.

Company Core Competencies

What are the things your company expects of all employees? This can include items like attendance and basic rules that every employee must adhere to. Maybe every employee must know how to work certain computer programs or know how to perform a particular task. How well does your employee handle these things?

Position Specific Competencies

What is expected from an employee with this employee’s job title? What is the employee expected to know and how is he expected to perform that task? The same task can be completed in different ways, but your company may want only one method used.

Performance Metrics

How are performance skills rated? Explain how you determine whether something is done within acceptable parameters or not. Explain to the employee how well he meets those expectations and what he can do to either maintain his current level or improve his standing. What would constitute a failure and how would it be handled?

Use Action Words

Use action words as opposed to generic terms such as good, great, and excellent. These generic words are subjective and don’t give the employee an idea of where he actually stands in his position. Using words such as:

    • Decisive

    • Attuned

    • Committed

    • Focused

    • Trustworthy

    • Truthful

    • Meticulous

gives a much clearer picture of not only what the employee contributes in strengths, but also how important those traits are to the company as a whole. Personal traits help determine how well an employee fits into the goals of the company.

Utilize Phrases That Describes Strength and Weaknesses

Now is the time to talk about your employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Remember to phrase each weakness in a way that shows it can be turned into a strength. Give the employee ideas on how to do just that. Some areas you can start with are:

  • Attendance

  • Attitude

  • Customer Service

  • Dependability

  • Flexibility

  • Interpersonal Skills

  • Leadership

  • Performance

  • Teamwork

  • Time Management

Set Goals and Measurable Results

Your employees need to know what strengths are most important. For example, he may never come into contact with customers, so his customer service skills don’t need to be honed. On the other hand, he may be expected to work well as part of a team and needs to understand that. It isn’t enough, however, to tell her she needs to work well as part of a team. Let her know what all that entails. Let her know what type of behavior is expected to be considered successful at this.

Provide Examples

Take time to make notes between reviews so you can give specific examples of what you are talking about. When did the employee show excellent teamwork skills? When were leadership skills necessary but the employee fell short? What could they have done instead? Be detailed and precise.

Monitor Performance After Review

The review should not be a dead end. Keep an eye out and see if your review makes a difference. Watch and see whether your advice is heeded and the employee attempts to improve. Make notes for the next review.

End On A Positive Note

Never end the performance review on a bad note if at all possible. The idea is to keep your employees motivated and anxious to do a better job or keep up the good work. The best formula to use is to start and end on high notes and sandwich any negative feedback between the two.

Establish A Channel for Mutual Feedback

Feedback should not flow in one direction only, but let the employee know that they are welcome to share their feedback and express their ideas for each other’s mutual benefit. The success of a business depends on everyone and employees must feel that they are considered valuable. Keep an open-door policy and invite employees to consider giving you a type of performance review every so often.

What Not To Do

Just as there are best practices for things you should do in a performance review, there are also things you should avoid, including:

  • Don’t be the one who gives a review to an employee that you have little contact with. Reviews should be conducted by the immediate supervisor whenever possible.

  • Don’t leave it at only a one-time review. Schedule regular evaluations so everyone can see how they are improving or can catch any poor performance before it becomes too late.

  • Don’t evaluate personality or traits instead of behaviors and results. Evaluating personality can make it feel like an attack.

  • Don’t do it without notice.

  • Don’t compare them with another employee

  • Don’t combine development and compensation reviews. They should be done separately.

Effectiveness of Using A Performance Management Software

Performance management software can give you a better idea of how an employee performs over time. You can get an idea of whether or not the reviews are being heeded. You also have a better idea of what areas the employee is exceeding in and where they need improvement. This can help you place employees where they will most benefit the company and where they will be happiest.

Importance of Writing Down A Performance Review

Keeping a written record of the performance review has two basic benefits. First, it gives the employee a reference to look back on. Sometimes nerves can make it impossible to remember everything that takes place during the evaluation. Having something for reference will help. The written review also allows you something to reference for future performance reviews. It will help show the employee’s progress over time.

Employee’s Performance Affects the Company’s Ability To Meet Goals

The performance of each employee helps determine the overall success of your company. In order to excel, you need to have a staff that wants to see your company grow. The performance review helps you do that.

Performance Review Is Inefficient Without A Follow-Up Action Plan

It is essential that you create a follow-up plan based on the performance review. How can the employee improve? What time frame are you looking at and how will you measure the improvement? Make sure your expectations are clear to your employees before the meeting ends.

Initial performance evaluations may be times of nerves and insecurity but that doesn’t have to last. As your employees learn the evaluations aren’t to criticize them but are meant to help them excel, the meetings will become something to look forward to. Follow the procedures above and make these evaluations a time here respect and encouragement are the top emotions displayed. This will be a winning combination that leads to happier, more productive employees.

Poor motivation can lead to higher employee attrition rate.

Make a great first impression at your next job interview.

This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.