July 19, 2016

Does your performance review process need a reboot?

Performance reviews are a process that some managers might dread. Compiling information, asking employees to complete self-appraisals, reviewing and completing the required forms, and scheduling time to formally discuss performance may appear to be an insurmountable task – one aspect of management that many would prefer to have others do for them.  

We all know that providing consistent feedback to employees is vital. By taking the steps I will outline in this post, managers can streamline the performance review process to make it a smoother experience for both the employee and manager.

Think of performance evaluations as a continuous process rather than a one-time-a-year event.

Start planning and tracking information for next year’s evaluation immediately. Seasoned managers know that maintaining data about performance throughout the year will make next year’s performance evaluation process more efficient and effective.

Tracking information doesn’t need to be burdensome. A line or two outlining the event, date and the results will usually suffice. Today, many online performance review systems allow managers to store information about employees’ progress throughout the year, giving easy electronic access to the year’s notes. For managers who prefer paper files or who may not have ready access to online performance systems, a physical file will do – just drop notes into a folder as events occur. 

Keeping notes on both the positive and the negative results of employees throughout the year will offer specific examples for you to include in the formal performance evaluation and will also serve to confirm that your evaluation of the employee’s performance is accurate.

Meet with employees on a regular basis throughout the year, providing feedback as events occur.

Employees appreciate regular feedback on performance. Rather than waiting for a specific meeting to discuss the employee’s performance, provide feedback on a continual basis as events occur. This will make the formal review smoother, as there will be no surprises on the part of the employee receiving feedback. By providing both positive reinforcement of exemplary behaviors and feedback on behaviors you’d like to see changed, you are helping guide the employee’s future performance.

Focus on how you deliver the message to increase its effectiveness.

Whether delivering a message about poor performance or sharing positive feedback, the manner in which we communicate has a profound impact on how the message is received. Focusing on your delivery – whether it’s during a formal meeting or a casual hallway conversation – will make a difference. Look at the speaker’s forehead or eyes. If you are on video chat, look at the camera instead of the person on the screen. Be aware of your body language and the image you are portraying – crossed arms may appear defensive. Leaning forward toward the other person indicates interest in the conversation. Be conscious of your facial expressions – are your features portraying the same message as your words?

By tracking employees’ progress throughout the year, providing consistent feedback and being cognizant of how you deliver messages, the performance evaluation process will evolve from a tedious task to one that benefits the employee, the department and the company as a whole. 

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