Performance reviews are sometimes seen as stressful by employees and managers alike. Or worse, a time vampire with little payback. However, with a simple bit of preparation, performance reviews can go from a dreaded process to a rewarding way to develop and motivate your employees. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your Performance Reviews:
Make sure that you have regular meetings with your direct reports during the course of the review period. If something important comes up (good or bad) provide feedback as soon as possible. There should never be any surprises when it comes to the final performance review.
Get to know your direct reports
Discuss where your reports wish their careers to go, what they enjoy doing, their expectations, etc. This will allow you to develop and motivate them accordingly. Create a good working relationship with your team members; you will both feel more comfortable in each other’s company. Your role is as much to act as a mentor as it is to manage day-to-day activities.
Set clear objectives
Set clear, achievable and time-bound objectives. Make sure that time frames are realistic and discuss the objectives with the employee beforehand, making sure that you both agree on what they are expected to do. Have regular meetings to discuss these objectives. This will enable you to make sure that your direct report is doing the right thing and allow you the coach them in the right direction. This will make their performance much more effective and you will both know how they are doing prior to the performance review, so there won’t be any nasty surprises.
Make sure that both you and your direct report agree on how they are to be evaluated prior to the performance review. You must be clear about how you are going to evaluate, and what part they are going to play in the process. This way you will both know what to expect.
Preparation is key for both you and your direct report. Make sure that you inform them about the upcoming performance review; this will allow them to complete any relevant documentation or finish up any objectives. For you, remember to make notes about their performance during the course of the year and bring along notes from your regular meetings held during the year. This will ensure that you do not focus the meeting solely on recent events, which may not give a fair representation of the entire year.
It is important to discuss both negative and positive points during the performance review; do not just focus on one area. Give constructive feedback. Remember that this should be a two way conversation, instead of just giving negative feedback ask your employee how they feel they did on certain objectives and what they feel they could have done differently, in other words, let them self evaluate where appropriate. This is your chance to coach your employee and to give them the opportunity to see where they went wrong and how they could have done better, instead of simply giving negative feedback which could demotivate them instead of encouraging them to do better. Spend time exploring your direct report’s strengths and make plans to capitalise on them in the future.
Most importantly, remember that your direct report will respond best when they feel ready and they know what to expect from you. Develop a strong professional relationship with them; this will allow you know how to challenge and motivate them accordingly and, as a result, create a successful working environment.
Plan for the future
You know what your direct report’s career aspirations are; you know their strengths and weaknesses. Set objectives or make development opportunities to help them realise their aspirations, building on their strengths and help reduce their weaknesses.
One final note, some people just aren’t great in some areas. No amount of motivation (positive or negative) will make a difference. If it doesn’t REALLY matter and, in particular, they excel in other areas, don’t dwell on the weaknesses and play to their strengths.