Conducting effective performance reviews

By PeopleFirst


As a manager or HR professional, you know that performance reviews are a necessary evil. They are dreaded by both employees and managers alike, and often result in a lot of stress and anxiety. However, performance reviews are an important tool for evaluating employee performance, setting goals, and identifying areas for improvement. In this article, we will explore how to make the performance review process more effective. We will discuss the challenges that organizations face, and provide practical advice for managers and HR teams. 

The Challenges of Performance Reviews 

Dr. Jim. notes "Everyone hates performance reviews. Half the time when you're going through the process, you might be sitting across somebody on the team that is completely not engaged." 

The performance review process is often seen as a chore, both by employees and managers. It can be a time-consuming and stressful process, especially for small to mid-sized organizations with limited resources. Managers may leave performance reviews until the last minute, resulting in rushed and ineffective feedback. Additionally, many organizations only conduct performance reviews once a year, which can lead to recency bias and a lack of regular feedback. 


Preparation is Key  

From a manager perspective, you need to leave enough time to prepare effectively for it. The performance review from a structure perspective should have clear guidelines, documented goals, and there should be a process of regular check-ins throughout the year that build to that performance review.

The key to a successful performance review process is preparation. Managers should set clear expectations and goals for their employees, and provide regular feedback throughout the year. This feedback should be documented and used to inform the performance review process. The performance review itself should be structured, with clear guidelines and objectives. By taking the time to prepare effectively, managers can ensure that the performance review process is more effective and less stressful for everyone involved. 

Make it a Conversation 

 "The tone is set in your weekly one-on-ones. That's a dialogue. That dialogue should carry throughout the year when it comes to how an individual's performance is going. And it should be a conversation where you're getting a line of sight into what's important to your team and that individual and you're working together in pursuit of those goals." explains Dr. Jim.

One of the biggest challenges with performance reviews is that they are often seen as a one-way conversation. Managers provide feedback, and employees listen. However, this approach is not effective for improving performance or building engagement. Instead, managers should make the performance review process a conversation. This means setting the tone with regular check-ins throughout the year, and encouraging employees to provide feedback and ask questions. By making the performance review process a dialogue, managers can build trust and engagement with their employees. 


Focus on Development 

"You want to also incorporate some elements in terms of areas of development and opportunities for them so that they're actually growing their career and you're demonstrating an interest in their future. So that is going to be critical in making your review process effective."

Performance reviews should not just focus on past performance, but also on future development. Managers should identify areas for improvement and provide opportunities for employees to grow and develop their skills. This not only benefits the employee, but also the organization as a whole. By investing in employee development, organizations can build a more skilled and engaged workforce. 


Objectivity is Key 

Communicate the rules and the expectations early and often and throughout the year. And you don't have to run the risk of being seen as doing a biased exercise.

Finally, it is important to ensure that the performance review process is objective and fair. Managers should communicate the rules and expectations clearly, and avoid any biases that may impact the review process. This means providing regular feedback throughout the year, and using objective criteria to evaluate performance. By ensuring that the performance review process is fair and objective, managers can build trust and engagement with their employees. 


Conclusion and Future Outlook 

 The performance review process is not going away anytime soon. However, by taking a more proactive and strategic approach, managers can make the process more effective and less stressful for everyone involved. This means setting clear expectations, providing regular feedback, and making the process a conversation. It also means focusing on development and ensuring that the process is objective and fair. By following these best practices, managers can build trust and engagement with their employees, and help their organizations become more successful in the long run. 


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Tags: Performance Reviews, Managing People