Tips for Conducting Better Employee Performance Reviews

Annual one-on-one performance reviews with employees can be enriching for you and your subordinates. In fact, a survey by our company found 94 percent of 1,400 chief financial officers polled think reviews are somewhat or very effective in helping employees improve their performance.

Here are a few tips for conducting mutually beneficial performance reviews for accounting professionals:

Prepare Talking Points

Giving employees the full value of an evaluation requires preparation on the manager’s part. If you try to wing it, there's less of a chance your team members will understand that the session is necessary for their career progression. When you’re preparing for the meeting, here are some details to compile:

  • Speak with colleagues who work closely with each employee to solicit opinions regarding his or her performance.
  • Find a list of goals set in last year’s performance review and have them at hand.
  • Note performance issues related to specific projects or tasks.
  • Find positive feedback to accompany the areas needing improvement. This will help keep the conversation from focusing only on criticism.

During the Review: Conversation Over Criticism

Keep in mind you're having a two-way discussion. This is not a criticism session, so avoid detailing every mistake an employee has made and don’t dominate the conversation. Make it instead a chance to discuss a team member’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of his or her achievements over the review period.

Engage employees and allow them to work with you to note areas needing improvement and objectives for the future. Think of the interaction as more of a question-and-answer session, in which you'll ask employees how they believe they're performing and what they need to improve.

While it’s important to avoid an overly critical tone, don’t skirt around areas requiring improvement. An annual review isn’t worth much if employees leave unaware of exactly where they need to improve their performance.

Set Goals

A major component of a performance review is to work with your employees to create a written plan for future career growth. They need to understand what is expected of them. If your team doesn’t know what goals they should be meeting, there’s no way to measure their progress.

This is another instance where finding specific examples is helpful. Just obliquely telling an employee to work on his or her time management is not direct enough. Note, for example, that there are repeated instances of missed deadlines for submitting critical reports. Also identify trainings or other resources employees can use to build their skills and improve their performance.

Ask for Feedback

Before ending the session, turn the tables and ask about your performance as a manager. This will help you determine how you can better help staff and management strategies you might consider revising.

Are there any other strategies you find effective for conducting performance reviews? Tell us in the comments below.