7 Tips for Conducting Effective Performance Reviews

In this blog post we will focus on the key elements that are required to undertake meaningful, purposeful and engaging performance review meetings.

Performance reviews are a critical element for enhancing performance for any organisation. When effectively used performance reviews are a worthwhile tool that help to motivate employees, provide recognition for achievements, and establish pathways for developing growth areas. Performance reviews are conducted periodically, usually every 12 months and involve identifying strengths, areas for improvement, sharing feedback and developing future goals.

1. Preparation

The importance of performance reviews has eroded over time, with many managers and employees treating the process as a tick and flick activity. Where performance reviews are often seen as time consuming, confronting, inaccurate and an ineffective tool in improving performance. This type of thinking needs to be rectified and the true worth of performance reviews reinstated across workforces. To shift this attitude firstly the way performance review are conducted needs to be refined and improved. Continue reading as we take you thought 7 ways managers can improve when conducting performance reviews.

Adequate preparation is central to ensuring performance reviews are a meaningful and worthwhile activity. The employee should be notified of the performance review meeting at least one month in advance to enable the manager and employee time to review and complete the relevant paperwork.

The employee should be provided with a copy of the performance review document, a copy of the selection criteria for their position and guidelines of what is expected of them before and during the performance review meeting.

2. Transparency

Perform reviews can be a stressed full time for employees, to ease some of this anxiety it is important that both parties know exactly what to expect from the meeting. This can be achieved by setting and distributing a clear agenda before the meeting.

3. Conversational

The performance review meeting needs to be a two-way conversation between a manager and the employee. When these meetings are conducted effectively they further strengthen workplace relationships, promote trust, create clarity, and can highlight shared values and interests.

It is important as a manager to check with the employee if they agree with the evaluation of their performance. Asking for feedback as a manager and suggestions for improvement is also imperative for the manager and organisation’s development.

4. Communicate effectively

No one likes to have difficult conversations, however from time to time we all need to have them. Throughout the meeting ensure you maintain a positive attitude and if you need to provide constructive feedback, make sure you are prepared. Be sure to use clear and concise language, focus on solving problems and not ruminating on them, consider areas for growth and treat the employee with respect.

It is also important to remember that verbal language is a small part of how we communication. Be aware of your body language, actively listen, maintain appropriate eye contact and facial expressions throughout the meeting, while monitoring the employee’s non-verbal communication for signs that they are uncomfortable, disengaged or getting agitated.

5. Future focused

There is a tendency for performance reviews to focus on the past and how employees have performed. While it is important to celebrate past achievements, it can be disempowering and demotivating to revisit past challenges.

By engaging in a future focused conversation together the manager and employee are exploring how growth and development can be achieved and supported. Make sure a plan for advancement is established, including identifying specific areas and options for training, coaching, mentoring or other development opportunities.

6. Objectivity

The statements and evaluations made by the manager must be evidenced by supporting information and not be the opinion of the manager or others. Evaluation data can come from a wide range of sources including 360 feedback, reviewing goals, recognition from external sources and so much more.

7. Follow up

At the conclusion of the performance review meeting the next steps must be defined and feedback shared about the process. Once an action plan has been agreed upon it is imperative for the performance conversations to continue. This can be achieved by scheduled in regular meetings or via informal check-ins to ensure conversations about the employee’s performance continue throughout the year.

Managers are employed to lead and inspire their teams. An important aspect of leadership is getting team members to perform to the best of their ability and to develop, refine and improve their skills and when used effectively performance reviews are a vital tool that promotes this. When a manager improves their ability to do their job well, their team members also benefit.

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