Performance Management: The Dos and Don'ts of Employee Reviews

Effective employee reviews are incredibly important in any business organization. They allow employees and employers to have an honest dialogue about what’s going right—and what’s going wrong. They also offer an opportunity for employers to set clear expectations, as well as give employees a setting to explore any concerns.

Additionally, employee reviews can provide a valuable opportunity for employers and HR personnel to spend one-on-one time with their staff. If your staff doesn’t have much contact with HR, they may appreciate being able to sit down with them and have their questions answered.

The problem is, performance management can sometimes be a stressful experience and even a waste of time for all the parties involved. In order to make sure your employee reviews run smoothly and effectively, guest author Johanna Cider offers some helpful performance management tips to keep in mind.

Conducting your first performance review? Read our beginner’s guide on how to conduct a performance review.

Tailor Employee Reviews to Each Individual Employee

According to a survey by Officevibe, “69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.” In other words, a little recognition goes a long way, and cut-and-paste employee reviews won’t have the same impact as personalized ones.

Therefore, it’s important to include personalized feedback as part of performance reviews, keeping in mind that people are motivated in different ways. Rewards and promotions, in general, can go a long way, so think carefully about what would motivate each individual employee. Then you can offer work-related rewards based on their personalities and interests.

Make the Review a Two-Way Discussion

Almost 90% of employees worldwide report feeling emotionally disconnected from their workplace and employers. If an employee is subjected to an hour of one-way conversation, they’re going to feel as though they’re being berated and singled out.

Instead, you should be giving your staff a chance to have their say about their own performance and engagement. You might like to ask a series of questions about how they feel they’ve done and what they think they could do to improve.

At the end of the employee review, you could also ask for their personal opinion on projects or company policies. Employees need to feel like they’re being heard and valued, and an employee review is a perfect time to open up that discussion.


Give Specific Examples of Problems

The worst kinds of performance reviews are the ones that leave employees scratching their heads. For instance, simply telling an employee that they need to do better is unclear and can leave employees feeling confused about where they’ve gone wrong.

Instead, you should make sure that you have examples to back up your points. Maybe they haven’t been at their best with customers lately, and you can point to a recent situation or show them specific customer reviews. Or maybe they have an issue with time management and you can point out times they’ve been late to meetings. Whatever the issue is, providing specific examples of problems gives employees a more clear understanding of where they’re going wrong and helps them better assess their own performance.

Find Solutions to Performance Issues

A study conducted in 2014 found that 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback that offers them constructive advice on how to improve. Therefore, any criticism you give your employees should be constructive.

Indeed, with employees reporting lower empowerment and engagement within the workplace, your employees need to walk out of their performance review feeling like they have the capabilities and support to improve. For example, if you have a team member who often misses deadlines, make a plan to structure their working week so that they can start meeting important targets.

Set Goals Together

A Seek study found that 60% of employees believed that performance reviews help to inform their future goals. Indeed, goal-setting can be a great way for employees to feel more positive and enthusiastic about their jobs in the long-run. Of course, the goals for each employee will depend on their job, but planning them alongside HR will ensure that employees take them more seriously.

To prevent goal-setting from feeling too daunting, you might want to gamify your team’s goals. Choose a platform and set up miniature rewards for each employee as they reach certain targets. When an entire team has met its goals, treat everyone to something special.

Don’t Dwell on the Negatives

While the negative aspects of a performance review might feel like the most important points, there’s no reason not to include praise. In fact, studies have found that 79% of employees that quit their jobs do so because they feel under-appreciated.

Keeping this in mind, it’s important to highlight positive aspects of an employee’s work and compliment them on it. This way, employees will leave the room feeling appreciated, even if they do need to improve in some areas.

At the end of the day, employee reviews certainly aren’t the most fun part of any job, but they’re an important part of keeping your team on the right track. To make things run as smoothly as possible, always let your employees know about their performance review in advance so they can prepare. Remember, the ultimate goal is setting the stage for an open and honest conversation about employee performance.

Written by Johanna Cider

Johanna is a freelance writer from the coolest little capital in the world, Wellington, New Zealand. She enjoys writing about career, business, lifestyle, and travel. See more of her published works here.

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