Employee reviews are like fruitcakes: They come around every year whether you want them to or not. But unlike receiving a fruitcake, an employee review doesn't have to be an awkward exchange.
Here are a few tips for a review process that will keep you and your employees on the same page:1. Give mid-year reviews for professional development, and pay-increase reviews at the end of the year.
A midyear employee review separates the evaluation of their performance from the one where compensation is set. If someone is waiting to hear about their raise or bonus, it’s not easy to get them to listen to what they can do to improve or problem solve.
The developmental review is an opportunity to have a dialogue about what an employee can do to improve and what an employer can do to help. By leaving results out of the discussion and saving them for the end-of-year compensation conversation, the review can focus on solutions to areas where an employee may be stuck.
2. Come prepared
To give a good employee review, it’s important to gather specific examples of objectively good and bad performance as possible. These achievements and slip-ups should be tracked throughout the year, rather than being done right before a performance appraisal meeting. The number of specifics shows the employee that you notice their performance.
For the review itself, write up a list of discussion topics and ground rules for a smooth conversation such encouraging two-way communication.
3. Be honest
A common mistake employers make when evaluating an employee is inflating positive feedback. No one likes confrontation, but avoiding it altogether doesn’t help the employee grow. It also makes it harder to let them go in the future, should you need to.
Keep the conversation open-ended and allow employees to respond to your comments. Focus on issues, not people, wherever possible.
4. Don’t rely too much on the evaluation form.
Many managers run through a performance-review form point by point and assign “grades” for each. But this method doesn’t allow for much discussion where the employee can help problem solve.
You can make the meeting more productive by leaving the performance appraisal form blank until the end of the meeting. Instead, discuss how an employee has performed recently or in the past year, as well as any on-the-job difficulties they’ve faced—and how they handled them. From there, you can come up with ways the employee can improve and grow. And hopefully you'll walk away with a better understanding of why the employee fared the way they did.
5. Shift the review to the employee.
One way to have a successful, open discussion is to let the employee assess their own work. Questions like: ”How have you done?” “What can I do as your supervisor to build your skills?” and “What are your goals for the next year, and what are the measurable outcomes?” should cover it.
Most employees will do fine with this assignment, but a few may not even respond. However, some will love it and walk away very motivated; these tend to be top performers.
Similarly, you can open up the meeting to productive discussion if you ask the employee to review a supervisor’s performance as well as his or her own.
After a meeting, be sure to follow up, summarize the discussion—and begin observations for the next review right away.