Out With the Old, In With the New… Tis the Season for Performance Reviews!

So it’s the end of 2015. Another year has passed, and if you’re like most managers (or employees for that matter) you might be putting off the dreaded year-end performance review. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With just a little preparation, both you as the leader and the employee can take a look back on the successful accomplishments of the past year while taking time to discuss how to put best efforts forward into the new year. Making the performance review an open-ended discussion, not a high pressure interrogation where flaws are the focus is what leads to a successful review conversation.

The yearly review benefits not only the employee but also the company. In essence, the performance review should be treated as an opportunity for both sides to get and give honest feedback and constructive criticism that will improve the work you do together.

When done right, a successful employee appraisal will do the following:

  1.  It helps the employee clearly define and understand their job responsibilities
  2. It provides criteria by which the employee’s performance is evaluated
  3. It can identify potential for advancement within and provide a fair basis for awarding compensation based on merit

So what can you do to set yourself and your team members up for the best possible performance review experience?

Prepare Talking Points – Giving your employee the full value of an evaluation requires preparation on your part as a manager. If you try to wing it, there’s less of a chance it will be taken as seriously, or that your conversation might help set them up for career progression in your company. Consider compiling a list of the following:

  • Feedback from colleagues who work closely with that employee to gather opinions on their performance
  • A list of the goals set from last year’s performance review and how they have been accomplished in the current year
  • Positive feedback to accompany the areas needing improvement, to motivate that individual toward achieving different outcomes for the upcoming year

Engage in a two-way Dialogue – Allow your employee to work with you to note areas needing improvement and setting goals for the future. Think of your interaction with them as more of a Q&A session, where you ask your employees how THEY believe they are performing and what they need to improve upon.

Set Goals – One of the most critical take aways from a performance review is working with them on a written plan for future career goals. They need to understand clear expectations of what success looks like in their job. If your employee is unclear in what goals they should be meeting, there is no way to measure progress.

If you really stop to think about it as a leader, performance appraisals have a huge impact on human happiness. In the employee’s mind, they use the performance appraisal as a yearly check in and primary determination of how much money they are going to make in their job or how far in the organization they are going to go. It’s important for organizations to take this seriously. Sometimes the hardest part is having the courage to be honest about exactly how well a person has done. With that being said, nothing discussed in a formal performance review should come as a surprise to the employee. Give teams performance feedback throughout the year and a summary of how they have added value to the company at year end.


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