Three tips to help you and your employees get more from the process.
To some managers, the annual performance review can feel like a hindrance imposed by the HR department. As a result, it may seem too routine, awkward and ineffectual. But with the right attitude and approach, a performance appraisal can be an excellent opportunity to coach your strong performers to greater success, and offer poorly performing employees a chance to turn themselves around. Here are a few strategies for managers to keep in mind when appraising employee performance:
An employee can't perform to your expectations if she doesn't know what they are. Take the time to make sure your direct reports--whether new hires or longtime team members--understand what they need to do to earn a positive review from you. Try implementing performance planning sessions, separate from the appraisal meeting, in which the employee sets goals and you set expectations. That way, when review time comes around, you can hold your employees accountable against theses benchmarks.
Preparation Is Everything
Prior to an appraisal meeting, ask your employee to consider her biggest achievements over the past year and how they fit with goals and expectations. At the same time, gather your own notes and insights, and solicit outside evaluations from those who work closely with your employee. To further prepare, you might even consider presenting your written evaluation an hour or so ahead of the meeting, so your employee has a chance to digest it privately and clarify her thoughts.
Set a Clear Agenda
During the meeting, try to avoid the typical enumeration of strengths and weaknesses that can leave employees with little actionable information. Instead, focus on a single topic. For poor performers, home in on problematic behaviors and be upfront about what is needed to correct them. For those generally doing a good job--hopefully most of your reports--try to elicit insights on what they're looking for from their job. Don't assume that everyone wants to move up the career ladder. If, for instance, someone is struggling to balance family responsibilities and work, greater scheduling flexibility might lead to greater satisfaction and productivity. For highly motivated employees, offer them challenging projects that will build skills and experience while orienting them toward career goals.
The best performance reviews are not simply an annual rite; they're part of an ongoing strategy of continuous feedback and improvement to help your direct reports to excel within your organization.
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