Ten tips for effective performance reviews

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Are you interested in tips about how to make performance reviews successful in your organisation? While performance review methods and approaches differ from organisation to organisation, universal principles about how to talk with an employee about his or her performance exist.

These tips are applicable in your daily conversations with employees. They are also critical in your periodic, formal meetings with employees to discuss job goals and performance. The ten tips below will help you make performance reviews positive and motivational. They will improve – not deflate – your ability to interact with your reporting employees.

1.         The employee should never hear about positive performance or performance in need of improvement for the first time at their formal performance discussion meeting unless it is new a new insight. Effective managers discuss both positive performance and areas for improvement regularly, even weekly or daily. Aim to make the contents of the performance review discussion a re-emphasis of critical points.

2.         No matter the components of your performance review process, the first step is goal setting. It is imperative that the employee knows exactly what is expected of his or her performance. Your periodic discussions about performance need to focus on these significant aspects of their job. You need to document their job plan with goals and expectations. Without a written agreement and a shared picture of the employee’s goals, success for the employee is unlikely.

3.         Describe exactly what you’re looking for from the employee and how you will evaluate their performance. Discuss their role in the evaluation process. If your organisation’s performance review process includes an employee self-evaluation, talk about what self-evaluation entails. Make sure that you also share the performance review format with the employee. The employee needs to understand that if he does what is expected, he will be considered a performing employee.

4.         Avoid only discussing positive and negative recent events. Recent events colour your judgment of the employee’s performance. You are responsible for documenting positive occurrences such as completed projects, and negative occurrences such as a missed deadline, during the entire period of time that the performance review covers. Ask the employee to do the same so that, together, you develop a comprehensive look at the employee’s performance.

5.         Solicit feedback from colleagues who have worked closely with the employee. This is sometimes called 360-degree feedback because you are gathering information from coworkers and reporting staff and using it to broaden the performance information that you provide for the employee. Start with informal discussions to obtain feedback. Consider developing a format so that the feedback is easy to digest and share.

6.         Prepare for the discussion with the employee. If you try to wing it, you will miss key opportunities for feedback and improvement and the employee will not feel encouraged about his successes. The documentation that you maintained during the performance review period will serve you well as preparation for an employee’s performance review.

7.         If you feel you need to, practice your approaches with your human resources staff, a colleague or your own manager. Jot down notes with key points and include bullet points that clearly illustrate the point you plan to make during the performance review. The more you can identify patterns and give examples, the better the employee will understand and be able to act upon the feedback.

8.         Spend time on the positive aspects of performance. In most cases, discussing positive components of the employee’s performance should take up more time than the negative components. For above average performing employees and performing employees, positive feedback and discussion about how the employee can continue to grow should comprise the majority of the discussion. The employee will find this rewarding and motivating.

9.         Don’t neglect the areas that need improvement. No employee’s performance is completely negative, but in the case of an underperforming employee, speak directly so that they understand the seriousness of the performance situation. Use examples from the whole time period covered by the performance review.

10.      Let conversation define the performance review. If you are doing all of the talking or the meeting becomes a lecture, the performance review is less effective. Aim for performance review meetings in which the employee talks more than half of the time. You can encourage this conversation by asking questions such as: What do you expect to be most challenging about your goals for this quarter? What support can we provide for you that will help you reach these goals? What are your hopes for your achievements this year? How can I be a better manager for you? How often would you like to receive feedback?

A well-managed performance review can enhance your relationship with employees, improve performance for your organisation and enhance employee–manager communication significantly.

[Source: http://humanresources.about.com/od/performanceappraisal/qt/tips-for-effective-performance-reviews.htm]