In addition to fulfilling the tedious and monotonous tasks associated with a performance review, managers often find themselves waging a psychological battle. They constantly fret about whether or not an employee will understand the intent of their feedback or if there will be dramatic and emotional outbursts.
But there are ways to make the appraisal process less painful and more enjoyable. Here are a few tips managers can follow to make the most of performance reviews.
Ensure constant connect
The oft repeated advise from performance evaluation experts – performance reviews are a process and not an event that happens once year. This means an effective manager will continually observe his/her team through the year, share feedback, and suggest improvements on an ongoing basis. Performance reviews- be it quarterly, half yearly or annual - should be more of an interaction to reinforce the key points that are discussed between the manager and the employee during the relevant time period.
Set specific expectations
Let your team members know what you want. Use clear language and be specific about your expectations. Again, this is an activity that should start at the beginning of the year. Key points to focus on: drilling down the job content/role, why it is required, and expected areas of contribution. Other aspects include creating a list of expected output, prioritizing them, and setting goals and determining how you will evaluate those. In addition, it is absolutely necessary to document every part of the discussion. This not only acts as a record of what was discussed but it can also be a viable reference point for you.
Solicit employee self-review
Ask your team members to share a self-evaluation of their contribution through the year. This is something that you should seek well before the day of the review meeting. It serves two purposes. One, when your team member has thought through his/her level of contribution and value add vis-à-vis the goals that were set, the conversation during the review meeting, will most likely be productive and less dramatic. Second, as a manager, internalizing how your member views his/her performance equips you well for the questions that await you in the meeting room.
Keep a growth-oriented conversation
A survey by DDI, the Conference Board and EY - Global Leadership Forecast 2018 - found employees are likely to show better outcomes when 75% of the discussion during their performance review is focused on their career growth and development. In other words, employees tend to align their personal goals with feedback received from managers when conversations are development oriented.
Reverse roles during the review
For a truly effective performance review, it is important that communication is two-way. The best means to achieve this is by asking your team to evaluate you. While one-way reviews run the risk of error and bias, a multidirectional evaluation brings about a sense of fairness. Employees not only feel valued, there’s also a sense of empowerment. What’s more, the tangible outcome of this approach is getting everyone to see the bigger picture.
Recap and follow up
One of the most important parts of a review discussion is recapping the key points based on which action points can be created. A word of caution here: pay attention to the content and language of the comments. It should strike a good balance between areas of strength, improvement and future growth prospects.
For greater impact, keep the conversations going even after the review. Following up on matters discussed during the review meeting can be a good launching point for such follow ups. If progress is at the core of performance evaluation of employees, continuity is what leads to it. Support your employees in delivering what they committed for and reward them as promised.