The end of the year is swiftly approaching, signaling that the time has come for the daunting task that all supervisors face — the employee performance review. Many hypotheses exist about how to execute employee assessments. The consensus is that it’s time to take a new look at worn-out assessment tactics. But, there still must be a formal exchange of information between the employee and supervisor to improve the output. Supervisors must not only execute a productive review, but strike a balance of year-round feedback to keep employees on track. The “right way” naturally varies from company to company, department to department, and employee to employee.
A performance review, in some form, is necessary for a healthy work environment. Then why do so many managers and employees dread the annual review? Perhaps it is time to breathe new life into old employee performance review tactics.
Have A Two-Way Conversation
Remember the review is for talking with, not at, the employee. It is an opportunity for both parties to learn. Make it less about filling out a form and more about having a conversation. Keep the documentation and paperwork, but allow employees to see everything in advance so they can make their own notes and come to the table with their own talking points. The evaluation should be a free flow exchange in which employees can voice their concerns, as well.
Address Strengths and Weaknesses
Rather than just handing out ratings, discuss strengths and weaknesses. Do not present a weakness without possible solutions. Talk about ways to improve, and ways to adjust processes if need be. Be open to change. Is there a way to shift workloads to play up the employee’s strength? Pay attention to group dynamics. Who works well together and on what types of tasks?
Review and Set Goals
Some things must remain part of the review process, like challenging goals and bench marks. Departmental and individual goals should be set at the beginning of every year and the employee’s progress toward goals should be tracked. Measurable progress is important and the employee should be aware of the metrics used to measure success. Progress must be shared often, not only at review time. The review is no time for surprises — an employee should know their progress at any point throughout the year.
Goal setting should be part of this process. Employees should have a hand in setting their own goals. Listen to what they hope to achieve and incorporate it into next year’s objectives. Ask the employee what factors are helpful in reaching goals and what roadblocks might be present. Set the tone for the year; ensure employees leave energized and with a new sense of purpose.
Employees undoubtedly have different ways of processing information. Stay in tune with how they respond to feedback. Present areas for improvement in a way that makes sense to that individual. Ask employees what they think should change to help them realize their goals. If anything feels forced or uncomfortable, explore how you can modify the review process or your communication style for that particular employee.
Remember the performance review should benefit everyone — the supervisor, the employee, the department and the company as a whole. This is the time of year set aside for one-on-one dialogue; take advantage of the opportunity. Create an open forum to discuss strengths and weaknesses, problems and solutions, and goals and to set the tone for a successful year ahead!