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As spelled out in a recent Washington Post headline, “Study Finds That Basically Every Single Person Hates Performance Reviews.”

Yikes! But it doesn’t have to be that way. No one should walk into a performance review without already knowing about their performance. Managers should be providing regular, ongoing feedback and listening to input from employees so these conversations are a two-way street. Formal performance reviews shouldn’t contain any negative surprises. In fact, a well-planned and executed review gives both employee and manager the fodder they need to be more successful in the future.

Guidelines for Success

To be effective, performance reviews shouldn’t be standalone annual events, but rather “a culmination of ongoing conversations,” in the words of HR consultant and author Sharon Armstrong, who wrote The Essential Performance Review Handbook.

Here are some guidelines for success:

  • Develop a regular practice of receiving and giving feedback. Don’t wait for formal review time to praise or critique employees. Walk around and talk with people about their work progress, or set aside times for informal updates, perhaps on a weekly basis. The only “annual” aspect of your performance review system might be completing a specific, required form or implementing raises. Frequent check-ins also help ensure that everyone clearly understands their current goals and expectations, as well as any changes that may have occurred.
  • Document performance. Don’t include anything in a performance appraisal you haven’t personally witnessed. Throughout the year, as you interact with employees, jot down notes for yourself. This way, at formal review time, you’ll have a full view of a person’s work and will be able to fully support your rating of an employee. The more specific the examples you record, the better.
  • Cover the “ABCs.” Make performance reviews accurate, behavioral, complete and consistent. This means providing a completely fair assessment based on a person’s job description and goals. Revise the job description, as well as employee and company goals and expectations, as needed. This is key to both an individual’s motivation and your company’s success going forward.
  • Make it a two-way conversation. Listen actively during a review meeting. Remember, you have a key role in your employees’ performance, so ask what you can do to help. Your questions might include “What have I done recently to help your performance?” and “What do you want me to do?” Pay careful attention to the responses.
  • Discuss ideas for development and action plans. This should be a significant portion of any annual review meeting. Focus on the future. Talk about the skills and experience needed for an employee to accomplish their career goals. Agree on specific actions to be taken so they can get there. Both of you should leave the meeting with achievable items on your to-do lists, including deadlines.

To optimize the success of your performance reviews and fine-tune your hiring and workforce development systems, partner with the PrideStaff Modesto team of experts. Contact us today to set up an informational meeting.

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