Often managers, executives and HR professionals feel anxious about conducting performance reviews. While a performance review may prove challenging for some managers, these discussions are valuable for strengthening bonds with A-players and getting underperforming employees back on track. This also presents a perfect time for leaders to check in on their employees and test their engagement levels as well as get an idea of how employees feel they are performing. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, so the need for a solid performance review process is evident.
It’s a known fact that employees, especially Millennials, who are filling the workplace, crave consistent feedback. Jeff Lawson (@jeffiel), CEO of Twilio said, “They’re not looking for constant praise, but rather they want to ‘keep score’ on how they’re doing in all aspects of their career. [They] never want to have a surprise.”
.@jeffiel CEO of @twilio says employees aren't looking for constant praise...they want to 'keep score.' Read more:
So how can managers ensure the reviews they conduct are positive, engaging and productive for all? Check out our 5 tips on how managers can use performance appraisals to their advantage.
1. Ask For Feedback
Employees have expressed they feel a lack influence over their performance review and many fear being surprised by negative feedback. Surprises occur when there is little to no interaction between review sessions and if the person who hosts the review isn’t directly connected to the employee’s everyday work. Even worse, 40% of employees dislike employee reviews because they come from a single point of view. Before conducting the employee’s performance review, ask their fellow staff members for input. Ask about the employee’s performance goals, their key accomplishments and how they can improve further. We like to call these type of reviews 360s. A 360-degree employee evaluation process provides a holistic view of an employee by gathering feedback from an employee's manager, peers and direct reports.
If there are significant discrepancies between your assessment and the employee’s, further the discussion and refer to your performance management system. Are there holes in the management process or is the insight more personally based than professionally? Requesting feedback on the front end helps ensure you’ve considered all relevant information, especially details the employee believes are notable.
2. Take Your Time, Slow Down
Allocate enough time to reflect on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and factor in his or her input. As managers know, it’s easy to overlook an individual’s accomplishments made earlier in the review period. You can avoid this pitfall and make evaluations easier by creating a record of performance-related events as they occur or by using a performance management system that allows you to easily give constant consistent feedback.
3. Give Specific Examples
When it’s necessary to address an employee’s opportunities, use specific examples. Instead of saying, “Your attitude seems negative at work” try, “The customer you dealt with on August 25th said you were hostile on the phone when he needed help.” Keep the focus on actual facts and details that can help employees improve specific aspects of their performance. These examples will ensure the appraisal is understood and will give employees clear goals for the future. With 53% of surveyed employees believing reviews do not motivate them to work harder, it’s important to be positive and helpful in critiques. When you provide specific examples, slow down and ask for feedback, performance reviews become constructive and engaging conversation.
4. Make Sure Feedback Is Unique For Each Individual
Adapt your evaluation style to the personalities of individual staff members. For example, highly confident A-Players may be more motivated with an important new task or assignment. On the other hand, less confident staff members could be energized by praise and reassurance. Don’t avoid offering constructive criticism to more sensitive employees, but balance negative feedback with positive comments. The more you tailor your reviews to the individual, the more understood the team as a whole feels.
5. Find Solid Solutions
Performance Reviews are intended to reward strong performance and address problems as they arise. With this in mind, be receptive to doing whatever’s necessary, to help employees improve. For example, if a saleswoman needs to strengthen her soft selling skills, explore internal mentoring options or additional training opportunities for her.
In those situations, speak with her team members and be sure it’s not a challenge her colleagues are experiencing as well. Performance reviews are more than a one-on-one learning session; they are windows into sometimes hidden parts of your organization. Really tap into the needs, concerns and aspirations of your team and take these findings as opportunities to retain A-Players and develop a succession plan for your company.
Although employee evaluations can often seem like a burden, keep in mind that the amount of time and effort invested in the process will pay off in the form of improved performance, stronger relationships with team members and a clearer view of your company.
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As ClearCompany's HR Business Partner, Laura focuses on all things HR including managing employee benefits, onboarding and engagement initiatives. With a keen focus on best-practices, she serves as a strategic partner to the leadership team by acting as a trusted resource on a wide variety of human resources topics including policy interpretation, creating and recommending enhancements to the HR process, and career development.