Taking the stress out of performance reviews

The words “performance review” can send shivers down the spines of employers and employees alike, but without regular evaluation, how do you know if your employees are doing the right thing? How do they?

We’ve prepared a few simple hints to help take the stress out of the process:

  • Keep it regular – Do you need to do annual performance reviews or would bi-annual or quarterly appraisals be more appropriate? Pick a time scale and stick to it.
  • Prepare – The boy scout motto says it all – “be prepared!” Familiarise yourself with your employee’s performance record BEFORE the meeting. Make a note of targets that have been met and areas that require improvement.
  • Give warning – Don’t ambush your employees! Give everyone a chance to prepare for their individual performance reviews and encourage them to keep a personal record of achievements. Schedule the meeting at a mutually convenient time.
  • Start off on the right foot – No one wants to be faced with an exhaustive list of their failings the minute they sit down. It immediately puts people on the defensive and can set a negative tone for the whole interview. You don’t need to alternate good and bad feedback, but make sure you have several positive things to say and lead with at least one of them.
  • Life is a two-way street – Don’t make it a one-sided conversation. You are the boss, but give space for feedback and self-evaluation. Be prepared for any reaction. Have proof to back up any praise or criticisms you have.
  • Prioritise – You may have a list of potential improvements as long as your arm, but no one can change everything at once. Consider the two or three most important areas in which you wish to see progress.
  • Set clear goals – if you’re going to hit a target, it helps to know what you’re aiming at! Set clear goals for your employees. Make them measurable and include realistic time limits. This will make it easy for you both to review progress at the next Ensure that any necessary training is provided.
  • We’ll meet again – You’ve evaluated performance and laid out expectations, now schedule a time to reconvene. This could be a short meeting to check progress or the next formal review. Commend improvements and discuss consequences.

And, voila! Review complete!