Employee performance reviews are often awkward and uncomfortable. Feedback, whether positive or critical, can be difficult to deliver or accept. Yet providing feedback to employees is an important way for a company's leadership to guide the organization. Employees also want feedback; employee engagement increases when employees get more feedback, more frequently; and, they're less likely to quit.
Tips for Managers
- Review expectations. Take a look at the feedback employees received last year, along with their self-appraisals and development plans.
- Evaluate performance. Think about how well they've done that work. Use your own opinion of work you've seen, plus updates from the employee, comments from their coworkers and input from other managers and other departments. Take note of any awards or recognitions the employee received.
- Plan for next year. Identify successes as well as opportunities for improvement, and set objectives for the next year. Outline a development plan that will help achieve employee success.
- Conduct the review. Set aside enough time for a thorough conversation. Allow the employee to respond and react to your feedback. Make sure the employee agrees with the goals you set for the next year.
- Follow up. Don't file the review away until next year's annual review. Check in with employees throughout the year to make sure they're making progress on their development plan. Take the opportunity to offer employee recognition and rewards for improvements and achievements throughout the year.
- Consider continuous feedback. A new approach taking root in forward-looking organizations like GE and throughout silicon valley is known as "continuous feedback". Continuous feedback favors frequent check-ins throughout the year over stressful annual reviews and allows you to identify potential problems and address sources of dissatisfaction or disengagement quickly, so they don't linger and affect performance.
Tips for Employees
- Review expectations. Look over the expectations that were established last year, based on your job description, review and development plan. Review the work you achieved as well as the difficulties experienced along the way; this is important because managers often see only the finished work product and don't understand the challenges that had to be overcome to produce it.
- Evaluate performance. Consider what you did well during the year and where you fell short, as well as what you liked working on and what you didn't enjoy.
- Plan for next year. Consider your long-term career goals and what skills you would like to develop over the next year to help move you along that path.
- Participate in the review. Take advantage of this time with your managers. If you disagree with their assessment, share your opinion respectfully. Make sure you agree with the development plan and goals for next year.
- Follow up. Don't file the review away until next year's annual review. Take action on the development plan, and let your manager know how things are going throughout the year. Treat your manager's time as a resource that can help you achieve career success.
- Embrace and encourage continuous feedback. If your manager and HR department are open to it, encourage and embrace continuous feedback and foster open lines of communication between you and your manager all throughout the year.
Because reviews feel uncomfortable, both managers and employees often simply hurry through them, just to get them over with. Taking that approach technically meets corporate requirements to conduct a review, but it loses all the benefits. When managers and employees take time to prepare before the review, have an open and honest discussion, and then use the feedback to make real changes, performance reviews become a key factor in increasing employee motivation and driving employee and business success.