A comprehensive performance review can help transform average employees into top performers and can help struggling workers overcome their challenges. However, not all performance reviews are created equal. It is up to you as a manager to design a performance review process that is beneficial to both you and the employee. Performance reviews should be constructive and used as an opportunity to praise employees for their contribution whilst highlighting areas that can be focussed on from a development perspective.

Here are five tips to help you conduct fruitful performance reviews.

1) Prepare a performance review schedule and stick to it

Managers and supervisors are not the only ones who need to prepare for performance appraisals. The most productive performance reviews are those in which the supervisor and the employee are active participants. By giving sufficient notice in advance, employees will have time to prepare for their review and arrive armed with questions and concerns. In general, here are some key times to schedule performance reviews:

  • Upon completion of 90 days of employment to discuss progress and performance to date
  • During the fourth quarter of the year to assess performance year to date and set objectives for the upcoming year
  • As needed when performance markedly suffers or when the employee transitions to a new position
  • Regular 1:1 meetings, during which performance is a key topic

2) Start by asking employees to complete a self-evaluation

Asking employees to complete a self-evaluation accomplishes multiple goals. First, managers gain valuable insight into the employee’s level of self-awareness. Second, self-evaluations provide the employee with talking points to cover during the performance review. Finally, they help employees to consider what they could have done differently before taking part in the live performance review with their managers.

3) Provide specific feedback to employees, citing examples to drive home points

Performance appraisals should contain actionable feedback for employees as well as specific comments on their completion of duties and responsibilities. Ideally, the employee should exit the appraisal knowing exactly what he or she is doing well in addition to specific opportunities for improvement. Consider the below example of a shipping coordinator receiving feedback from her manager. Have a think about what makes the first example better than the second:

  • Example 1 (specific): “You do a wonderful job securing sea freight containers and documenting the container loading process. As we move forward into next year, I would like for you to try to get shipping quotes from at least three carriers.
  • “Example 2 (non-specific): “You do a good job handling our shipments, but of course I would like to see you improve next year.”

4) Suggest a corrective action plan for employees with major deficiencies

You need to be prepared to present a corrective action plan if you supervise any employees who are failing to meet expectations in one or more categories. Ideally, draft the corrective action plan before the employee’s review and discuss it during your meeting. Do not forget to provide a copy to your employee.

5) Document the key points of the performance appraisal and maintain written copies

You could have the most productive staff appraisal in the history of your company, but if you fail to keep documentation of the appraisal process, it’s as if the meeting never happened. Prepare a clear copy of each evaluation and make sure that you and your employee both sign it. At a bare minimum, copies of the performance appraisal should be distributed as follows:

  • A signed copy for your records
  • A signed copy for the employee
  • A signed copy for your Human Resources department

The Bottom Line

When properly undertaken, performance reviews can have a career-altering impact on an employee. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that performance reviews are carried out in a structured and professional manner. Most importantly, you will arm employees with the valuable tools and tips needed to grow and thrive in the upcoming year.

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