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How to Conduct a Performance Review

In many businesses, the idea of performance reviews can bring on overwhelming feelings of dread. This is often felt by both the employee and management for entirely different reasons but is there nonetheless.

Conducting a performance review is a necessary part of an employer-employee relationship since it is designed to let the employee know how they are doing. When the evaluation is done effectively, both the employee and the manager walk away with their eyes wide open.

Wondering how to conduct a performance review that is both effective and successful? Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Performance Review?

A performance review is designed to open the lines of communication between the employee and management about the work that has been accomplished. This typically occurs at various times throughout the year and can be different for each business. 

Oftentimes, most evaluations are scheduled at 6-month intervals to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The evaluation itself should be set up to review the employees’ work over the past few months and to make a plan for the future.

What are the Primary Goals of a Performance Review?

When it comes to performance reviews, there are specific goals that should be focused on during the evaluation to ensure that there is a clear understanding on both sides. Knowing the goals of the performance review helps both the employee and management to understand the process completely.

Here are some of the primary goals of a performance review that should be considered:

  • To get to know the employee better
  • To develop and review previous goals, expectations, and performance
  • To inform the employee of behaviors that need to be addressed
  • To plan for the future
  • To show that you care about the future of the employee with the company
  • To take notice of strengths and weaknesses in the employee’s work performance

While this is not an exhaustive list, it shows the primary goals each manager should have in mind when setting up and conducting a performance review.

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A performance review can help improve your employee relations. 

Why are Performance Reviews Necessary?

Although many people wonder what the purpose of the performance review is, it is important to understand that they are a vital part of employee relations. This is because it allows for an honest conversation between the two.

Performance reviews provide the perfect opportunity for managers to let employees know how they are doing and what they can do to improve their work in the future. The evaluation allows the employees to feel that they are not alone in their work, but have some support along the way.

Preparing for a Performance Review

When it comes to conducting a performance review, certain steps need to be done ahead of time. This will ensure that the actual meeting goes smoothly and does not leave anyone with more questions than answers.

One of the most important factors when conducting performance reviews is to ensure that you are well-prepared. Taking the time to prepare for your meeting will show the employee that they matter to the company.

Most importantly, a manager should take the time to review the employee’s last performance review and goals and compare them to their current performance. This will allow the manager and the employee to see any growth that has occurred over time.

It is also important to make sure that you have well-documented examples and data that are specifically related to the employee. Doing this will show the employee that they are being evaluated on their criteria and not by others’ performance.

During the preparation process, you should also make sure that you have prepared an agenda and notes to keep the meeting flowing well. Take the time to schedule the review at a time that is most convenient for the employee.

Taking the time to prepare for your meeting will not only show the employee that you have considered them as an individual but will also allow you to speak with authority. 

How to Conduct a Performance Review

Once you have prepared for your meeting with the employee, you must follow through with your previously set agenda. This means that you need to ensure that you have a flow to the meeting and that it is seemingly organized.

Step 1: Set Aside Enough Time for Discussion

When you are setting up the time for the performance review, make sure that it is not just fit in between other meetings or items. You should ensure that you have plenty of time for the employee to ask questions and for the conversation to flow naturally.

Keep in mind that a performance review should not be just you talking but should be a two-way conversation. This type of meeting requires enough time to be set aside to have a conversation that is based on respect and allows for both parties to speak.

Step 2: Bring up the Past While Pushing them to the Future

It is important to remember that the goal of the performance review is to take a look at the employee’s past performance. While this is true, it is also important to focus on how past performance should lead to future goals.

During the performance review, you will want to focus more of your attention on where you would like them to go from where they are. This means that while you need to bring up the past, the majority of the conversation should be centered around future performance.

Step 3: Ask For Feedback on their Performance

Another important step during the performance review, and is often best to conduct before you give your evaluation, is asking them for feedback. This allows them to reflect on how they believe they have performed up until now.

To do this effectively, you will need to have a set of questions prepared to get them thinking about how they have handled various situations in the past. Once you can get them talking about their performance, you will have a better understanding of what they are thinking.

Step 4: Listen Actively to What They Have to Say

The key to all effective communication is to ensure that you are actively listening to what the employee is saying. There are several ways that you can show them that you are listening, including reflecting on their words and asking for clarification.

When you listen actively, it is important to ask for any clarification that you need on what they are saying. This can be done by occasionally repeating back what they have said in your own words and asking if that is what they mean.

Active listening shows the other person that you are not only hearing their words, but you can understand where they are coming from. This creates a better communication experience for both parties involved.

Step 5: End with a Follow-Up Conversation Scheduled

In many cases, managers and employees alike view the performance review to be the end of a conversation until the next evaluation rolls around. Keep in mind that the best performance reviews typically end with certain goals and timeframes in mind.

This is especially true for those performance reviews that do not go as well as they should have. If there are action steps that the employee needs to take, then a follow-up conversation should be scheduled to ensure they are getting on the right track.

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Following up after a performance review is just as important as conducting one. 

Is it Important to Follow Up After a Performance Review?

As important as the performance review is to an overall understanding of expectations and past work, a follow-up is also essential. Whether the employee received a good performance review or one that did not go well, it is important to follow up.

In most cases, there are specific action items that you will need to check on after the performance review. For example, if you assigned the employee to take a certain training course, you will need to follow up to ensure that it is completed.

These follow-ups can be scheduled as meetings, or you can have them done as more impromptu conversations. The method of the follow-up will vary depending on what type of evaluation the employee received overall.

Tips for a Successful Performance Review

It may be important to note that performance reviews should be a positive experience for both the employee and the employer. Doing so will help with keeping the overall morale of the organization high.

Following certain recommendations and tips can help to ensure that your performance reviews are conducted to benefit both parties involved. The best employee performance reviews are focused on building a culture that is based on respect and the growth of all employees.

Wondering what tips you can use for your next performance review meeting? Read on to learn more.

Tip #1: Prepare in Advance

As you are scheduling performance reviews of your employees, it is important to ensure that you give yourself enough time to prepare properly. The performance review will be taken as seriously as you present it, which requires some time in advance.

When you are preparing for a performance review, you should keep the focus on the employee and their specific performance. This means that you will want to gather as much information about the employee and their performance as possible.

Make sure that you have concrete data and examples that support your evaluation criteria to show the employee. This will add value and credibility to your evaluation.

Tip #2: Keep the Conversation Two-Way

Remember that even though the performance review is designed for you to give your thoughts about the employee’s performance, the conversation should be two-way. When both parties involved have the opportunity to speak, the meeting will go much smoother.

While you want to give the employee your opinions on their performance, you should also consider their views as well. Doing this can help you to understand possible reasons for weaknesses before you jump to conclusions.

Keep in mind that in a two-way conversation, both parties are doing an equal amount of listening and contributing to the conversation. 

Tip #3: Be Clear and Concise

When you are speaking about their performance, be sure that you are using clear and concise language that they will understand. This will often ensure that there is no misunderstanding during the conversation.

Your words should not only be clear and concise, but you should always back up your information with the data and information you prepared in advance. Allowing employees to not only hear but also see what you are talking about can help them to see where you are coming from.

Tip #4: Give Specific Examples of Performance Criteria

Remember that when you were preparing for the evaluation, you should have pulled specific data and examples to back up your performance review. This is the best way to show and not just tell employees what you are talking about.

When they can see concrete examples of what they have done concerning your performance review, they gain a better understanding. In many situations, employees tend to doubt their performance, when you can show them specific examples of their work, they will often feel much better moving forward.

Tip #5: Provide Employees with a Copy of the Evaluation

One of the most important tips to keep in mind is that you should always allow the employee to have a hard copy of the performance review. This is something that can be given in advance so that they can come prepared for the meeting.

Providing them with a copy of the evaluation will also allow the employee time to compare it to past evaluations to see if they have had any growth. They can then prepare any questions they may have, which will contribute to the overall conversation better.

Are You Ready for Your Next Performance Review?

As you are preparing for your next performance review for your employees, you should keep the steps and tips in the forefront of your mind. This will help the process go much smoother and help you to lead your employees with more confidence.

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