No Surprises on Performance Reviews

April 30, 2017 2:34 pm Published by Comments Off on No Surprises on Performance Reviews

May 2017 Blog

I was in a meeting last week where the topic came up about the future of performance reviews. The conversation was something to the effect of managers do not have time to complete and give them, and when they do take the time, many of them do not how to properly present them so they add value and help direct the employee to improved performance. Employees don’t like receiving performance reviews unless the results are all positive, and if it is not tied to a bonus or pay increase, it is not motivating to the employee. However, employees like knowing how they rank from their managers perspectives and most will not receive feedback to this end unless there is a performance review. The conversation concluded with the bottom line that employee performance reviews are not going away. The company needs some format for measuring an employees performance and employees need to know how their manager feels about their performance and/or reinforcement that they are doing a good job.

The question becomes, how to give effective reviews. I believe that an employee should never see anything negative on a review that the manager has not already talked with them about. Reviews go into the employees file. Any issues should be brought to the employees attention prior to the review so they have time to improve performance or behaviors as necessary. If no visible improvements have been made by review time, then it should be noted as part of the review. Prior to the review, as issues emerge, the manager should communicate clearly and directly what needs to be improved and when they expect to see a visible difference, and then allow a two-way discussion to occur so that the employee helps find the solution versus being told what to do. For example, “I’ve noticed your performance slipping lately. Is there something I need to know?” Allow the employee to respond. There may be a mitigating circumstance that is causing a temporary slip in performance, such as loss of a loved one or a sick child at home. Barring a particular event causing the issue, a follow-up question would sound similar to; “What do you propose we do to get your performance back on track?” This allows for the employee to be an active participant in planning how they will demonstrate a change in performance or behavior. This line of questioning allows for buy-in and commitment to the results and in general, a more comfortable discussion. The conversation should end with restating what the employee has agreed to do to show improvement and an appropriate timeframe.

By engaging in these conversations throughout the year, managers will find that performance reviews are much easier to discuss since the review will note signs of improvement or areas that still require additional time and attention. Since any concerns have all been discussed previously, the employee will not be surprised to find areas where the manager is not satisfied. Overall, these reviews provide more value to the employee and are less burdensome for the manager. Now the only challenge is finding the time to complete the reviews and meet with the employee! Perhaps my next blog should be on time management…

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