Managers, Are Your Performance Reviews as Effective as They Can Be?

performance reviews

This is part one of a series on performance reviews. Check out part two for advice about making your own performance review work for you.

If you’re a manager, you might be getting ready to give annual performance reviews to your employees. You know how valuable these appraisals are in helping your staff improve. However, research indicates your employees may disagree: In an Accountemps survey, 31 percent of employees said that reviews are somewhat or very ineffective in helping them improve their performance.

So how can you make them as meaningful as possible for your employees? Here are a few tips:

Be prepared. Before meeting with an employee, read through your notes from the previous assessment. What issues were raised during that meeting? What objectives did you and the employee set? Have those goals been met? Be ready to discuss the progress, or lack thereof, that the employee’s made on those issues and goals, as well as feedback you’ve collected from other managers the employee has worked with.

Stay focused on the big picture. Whether you’re praising a report the employee wrote or critiquing the way she handled an interaction with a client, be sure to explain the effect her performance had on the company as a whole. When employees understand that the quality of their work will affect the company’s mission, they’re more likely to feel valued, and as a result, motivated to improve.

Strike a balance between positive and critical. Although it’s best to avoid negativity, it’s important not to sugarcoat issues. If there’s a problem with an employee’s performance, be direct and specific. And remember: Sometimes even the best employees need to receive critical feedback. On the flip side, even those employees with the most room for improvement should be praised for their strengths.

Offer potential solutions for performance issues. For every piece of constructive criticism you give, be prepared with a solution. For example, if an employee is having trouble mastering a particular type of accounting software, suggest specific training he might want to sign up for. Or if soft skills are the issue, consider facilitating a mentoring relationship with another employee who excels at customer service or team building.

Follow up – frequently. Ideally, you should conduct performance reviews more than once per year. If possible, schedule a time to revisit the issues you discussed with the employee a few months after the review so you can check in on their progress. At these meetings, be flexible; if a training program isn’t helping the employee meet goals, suggest a different approach. 

Employees can find performance reviews intimidating. After all, their work is under scrutiny. That’s why these meetings should be a conversation, not a monologue. If you establish a collaborative environment, you show your staff that you’re invested in them, and they’ll feel more appreciated and more motivated to perform even better in the coming year.

How do you make performance reviews more effective? Share your tips in the comments below.  

Tags: Management