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Build the Ultimate Performance Review Process

By Michael Heller Performance Feedback, Performance Reviews

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Nobody has ever said they love giving or doing performance reviews. If they have, they lied. They are downright dreadful and sometimes, when you’re a manager they can seem stressful and complicated, now just imagine what your employees think of them. Yes, they dread them too. If you’re worried about making a great performance review process, don’t sweat because the fact that you want an EFFECTIVE process is a great start.

Did you know only 55% of companies do performance reviews? Which means most likely half of them aren’t even GOOD reviews that you need to be successful and grow as a company.

What is a performance review?

  1. A time to take collected feedback from employee and employer (or manager) and assess past performance and create new goals for the future.
  2. Performance reviews can contain both constructive feedback and accolades for the employee.
  3. A feedback loop is when both employer and employee have a chance to give and receive feedback.
  4. Performance reviews can be annually, or semi-annually but generally happen around the same time each year or period of measurement.
  5. A performance review MAY include compensation adjustment (raise) but experts are divided on whether pay and performance should be linked in this way.

Let’s just clear the air about performance reviews first, before we dive into crafting this process. Performance reviews are meant to help improve and give constructive feedback to help better the company and employee. It also helps you as a manager better understand your employees and learn how to, well, manage them. Many performance reviews don’t work well because they are spaced too far apart and employees need more frequent correction or praise in the form of microfeedback.

DYK only 55% of companies do performance reviews? Click To Tweet

What is microfeedback?

  1. Microfeedback is meant to be near real-time in nature.
  2. Employers and employees can use microfeedback as their sole performance tool.
  3. Many employers use microfeedback to supplement their annual or semi-annual reviews.
  4. Microfeedback offers employees the opportunity to correct or continues certain behaviors before they become a performance issue.
  5. Microfeedback allows managers to see a holistic portrait of an employee’s total performance rather than performance in proximity to the performance review.

According to a study, 70% of workers want reviews that help them develop and grow. You can learn a lot from completing these reviews, but with the right process you can learn about the problems and find the best solutions. Easy enough, right?

Be Prepared

That’s right, time to pull out your notes and study a bit. Go over your thoughts and ideas and jot them down while crafting your performance review. Figure out what you want to cover and how you want the tone of these meetings to go down. Decide whether or not you want your employees to piece together their own performance self-evaluation and their key accomplishments or have your departments put together reviews.

Don’t just pull information from the past week or month that your employee has done, pull information all the way from their last performance review. Sound like too much work? With a performance process based on microfeedback, you can roll up more frequent “mini-reviews” to get a sense of what’s an annoying one time offense and what is a clear pattern of behavior. Many employers give reviews at a set time, thus subjecting the employees to being reviewed based on a few mere weeks.

Have your employees write a review too before they come in. This will help you gauge where key areas of what you need to discuss.  Once you figure out your approach and pull together your information and thoughts it’s time to make that face-to-face time a reality.

Other preparation tips: Write down what you want to cover. Reviews can be long and sometimes messy, so ensure you cover everything while your employee is there. If you plan on changing anything about their current position, make sure you’ve done the research. Don’t give over an important account before talking with its former manager, don’t give a raise without calculating what percent it is, don’t offer an additional benefit if you can’t explain it to them (or have your HR rep there with you for that part).

Time can be sensitive

Figuring out the best time to put together and meet for performance reviews can be tricky. Especially when managers are making the mistake of doing this only once a year. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely difficult to remember every single detail from the past 12 months. Making consistent evaluations can help with this. This will clear up the confusion or struggle to try and remember everything from last years review and can benefit your employees by making them more engaged and by being able to discuss areas of success and improvement so they aren’t wasting a whole year waiting for their next review.

Other timing tips: If you typically wait until the end of the year to give feedback, try to be aware of what time constraints of your employees. For example, assessing your employees right after a lazy summer schedule is implemented will not give you (or them) a true picture of their performance or productivity. Reviews around the holidays tend to confuse employees who get a great review but no Christmas bonus (or vice versa). Parents who are struggling through the demands of three kids back to school, will be distracted and difficult to steer until things slow down.

Check out these 9 stats!

Set up a meeting

You have already decided how you want the tone of your meetings to go, now it’s time to put those into action and start scheduling your reviews with employees. You will want to cover these basics in your meeting to really ensure that you covered and got all the information out of the review that you and your employee needs to go grow, learn and help reach those goals you will set.

  • Break the barrier. First and foremost break down that wall, if you’re nervous you can bet that your employee is even more nervous. Don’t create that principal’s office effect. You can sit next to them, take them to lunch, whatever you need to do to make it less of an interrogation as possible. This is a conversation to discuss accomplishments, goals, improvements and company values, and how to help the employee improve.
  • Ask questions. As you go through your employee’s review, this is your time to ask those questions and pull from the notes and thoughts you prepared. This is also an opportunity for them to ask any questions, don’t let them feel like they can’t ask questions about you, the company or their performance. Curious about something? Ask! In this case curiosity doesn’t kill the cat, but remember to keep it relevant to their work.  This is a conversation for you both to mutually discuss aspects of their performance and how to improve or set goals to help better their work, your company and for you to improve managing them. Do they have personal values? Have them write them down or use our personal value and goal function to keep track of them electronically.
  • Take notes. All while you’re going through your employees meeting and review be sure to take notes, you have multiple reviews to do and you won’t remember everything you talked through with each employee. Also encourage your employee to take notes so they have something to reference back to after all is said and done. Many companies record or create transcripts or copies of reviews to review goals or to stay compliant. If you have a microfeedback system like iRevu, you can easily attach documents, recordings and other feedback you’ve collated in the system in one simple dashboard.
  • Key discussions. Start with setting goals, and going over past goals second. Employees tend to push away from talking about the past but light up when discussing future ideas and goals. It’s exciting and new, which can help you get your performance review off to a good start. This doesn’t mean you can’t discuss other things from their review but this can create a good tone for the rest of the meeting and keep that barrier down, remember they could still be nervous so be sure to watch for their body language.
How curiosity doesn't kill the cat when it comes to performance reviews. Click To Tweet

Follow up

After all is said and done with your performance reviews, be sure to set aside time to do a quick follow-up with your employees halfway through. Most managers cannot afford time away from their own tasks to follow-up, which is where iRevu comes in. Setting your iRevu to your desired intervals, allows you to give feedback consistently and in line with the schedules of your employees. Since the employee has worked with you to set their personal goals in iRevu, watching progress is a snap!

See if they need to be making adjustments to the goals or tasks you discussed and see if there has been any improvement. This is a sure way to make sure what you actually agreed upon and discussed during the review is playing into their work and it also helps you and your employee keep that relationship open for questions and shows that you care about their growth in the company. Similarly, if there is no progress and you need to create a performance plan to get them back on track, you can do that as well, with iRevu to back up the downward trend.

Performance reviews are not meant for you as a manager to become the bad guy, they’re meant to create an environment where employees can do their best work. If done right, your performance process can be a lot less painful than you anticipated. Using the tips above you can create a more efficient an engaged employee which in turn, helps you, their team and the company with overall performance.

Want to learn how you can get a jump start on your performance process? Stop the madness and try a free trial today!

Michael Heller

Posted By Michael Heller

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