4 Secrets to Improving the Dreaded Performance Review

The start of a new year usually brings lots of optimism about the success of the coming year. In business, it can also bring the often dreaded performance review process. It’s time for managers to have awkward conversations about topics they have likely avoided all year.

Here are 4 secrets to get you through those performance reviews with

  1. Your employee should start – In advance of the Review meeting, ask your employees to write their thoughts on their performance last year. The NY Times published a list of benefits to the employee self-review. This will give you a good idea on whether your performance appraisal aligns with your employee’s. You can prepare your comments by drawing on what the employee shared. If your employee has good self-awareness on strengths and weaknesses, it makes the whole conversation go a lot better.
  2. Highlight strengths – Start by sharing the strengths your employee has. Everyone likes to hear what they are doing well. Provide examples so the employee knows that you have appreciated his or her positive contributions to your organization. CareerBright has great examples on recognizing employees.
  3. Have a plan to improve weakness – Keep these comments objective about action or behavior. Avoid comments about personality traits, since those are often a matter of opinion and derail conversations. Offer a clear plan on how the employee can improve their performance. This might include a review of a process or timeline. Maybe your employee needs a refresher on training. Many vendors offer online training (LexisNexis University) and you should direct your employee there with a timeline on when to complete classes.
  4. Set regular meetings – a key reason why Review meetings are dreaded is because employees and managers don’t have regular meetings. Having a 30 minute meeting with your employees every week or two opens clear lines of communication. You can quickly identify areas that need improvement and address them.

Ideally, the Review meeting should have no surprises. If you talk with your employees, one-on-one, throughout the year, they know where they stand with their performance. And, they will look forward to the next performance review meeting!

Elena Cutri