Along with holiday cheer, the end of the calendar year brings a chore often despised by managers and employees alike: the performance review. It’s good management practice to conduct them, but reviews can be especially stressful when the feedback isn’t all good, says Karen Hinds CEO and founder of Workplace Success Group LLC and an expert on developing emerging leaders.
“For some managers, reviews – especially reviews with difficult employees – are as dreaded as a trip to the dentist,” she says. Hinds, who is the author of the books “A Young Adult’s Guide to the Global Workplace,” “Get Along, Get Ahead: 101 Courtesies for the New Workplace,” and “Networking for a Better Position & More Profit,” offers managers 7 tips for conducting performance reviews that won’t sap all the holly jolly joy from your workplace.
1. Don’t do reviews on the fly. “Yes, it’s the end of year, but reviews should not be done spontaneously,” Hinds warns. “Set a time, choose a private comfortable location, and let your employee know ahead of time so he/she can come prepared. As a manager, you, too, should be prepared with notes from throughout the year outlining areas of excellence and those that need work.”
2. Make it a conversation. “Unfortunately, some managers feel that the review is a time for them to talk to the employee instead of with the employee, but this should be a two-way conversation,” Hinds says. “As well as offering your feedback, let employees evaluate themselves, and listen to what they think the need to improve and where they excel.”
3. Follow-up is a must. Hinds tells managers to decide on a plan of action as soon as the review is completed. “Recognize great work and help the employee improve areas that need to be enhanced. Don’t wait until next year,” she says.
4. Don’t tip-toe around bad performance. “Avoid general statements,” Hinds says. “Instead, be specific about areas that need improvement and develop a correction plan with regular deadlines and expected outcomes.”
5. Don’t overinflate good performance. In Hinds view, no employee is perfect. “An individual may be outstanding in some areas, but there will always be skills they need to improve,” she says. “Resist the urge to give some employees exceptional ratings on all their performance areas.”
6. Don’t exaggerate poor performance. “When an employee is a poor performer, resist the temptation to deliver a poor rating on every level,” Hinds says. Finding some good attributes to remark can help inspire an employee’s commitment to improve the bad performance.
7. Be prepared for emotional responses. If you’ve taken time throughout the year to set expectations and update your team members on their performance, the performance review should be no suprise, Hinds says. “But if you didn’t, be prepared for employees who may be visibly upset by a review that seems inaccurate to them,” she says. “Listen, be specific, and encourage feedback to ensure that next year you’ll have a merrier review period.”