The Dos and Don’ts of Performance Reviews


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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Staff appraisals are designed to help improve performance and motivation, so how do you ensure they’re as effective as possible?

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Performance Reviews [Infogr
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Many organizations have a set process for staff appraisals, and one that often involves a single annual meeting where goals from the previous year are assessed, and future goals are planned. However, for many this can be a waste of time when not done correctly.

With a wide range of challenges to tackle, staff appraisals need to be handled correctly and professionally in order for them to benefit both the employee and the employer.

In order to get the most from your performance review process, it's vital that you train your staff to adhere to certain do's and don'ts:

The Do’s and Don’ts of Performance Reviews [Infographic]

Do: Keep a record of performance notes

You and your managers should both have a record of previous performance notes and documentation of previous measurable goals you've set in order to accurately assess an employee. When an appraisal is due, make sure your managers have what they need to ensure the review is a success.

Don’t: Jump to conclusions without evidence

It's very easy to make assumptions and come to your own conclusions before there is an explanation. Make sure your managers understand this and are able to reserve judgment. If they have any suspicions about an employee's performance issues, they should endeavor to discuss this with the employee first and allow them the opportunity to provide an explanation.

Do: Be prepared

Simply going into the meeting to talk about whatever comes to mind isn’t going to be the most productive use of your time. Encourage managers to start writing notes and collecting together information for the appraisal as soon as possible, preferably after the previous meeting. If they don’t prepare, they risk not providing your employee with opportunity to progress as an individual.

Learn more: 6 Excellent Performance Review Questions Managers Need to Ask

Don’t: Confuse your notes

When working with large teams, it can be difficult to keep everything in order. When it comes to an employee performance review, however, it's vital your managers are seen to be professional and organized. Confusing their notes will only undermine their leadership skills and devalue the review process.

Do: Avoid having to reschedule or postpone the meeting

It's important that you ensure your managers understand the importance of the review process, and this includes resisting the need to reschedule or postpone the meeting. Once the performance review meeting is organized, your managers should prioritize that above any other kind of meeting.

Don’t: Wait until the appraisal to inform them of disciplinary action

Waiting until the performance appraisal discussion to inform an employee of disciplinary action is a big no-no. If disciplinary action needs to be taken, then it should be done so in a timely manner and acted upon immediately. Failure to do so simply means that bad habits can be left to fester and cause more damage.

Do: Allow employees to evaluate their own performance

Although it’s important for your managers to accurately assess your employees, it’s also important that your employees are able to assess their own performance. There are many advantages to conducting a self-assessment but it will also give your managers a better idea of how employees view themselves.

Don’t: Talk negatively about other employees in the meeting

All of your managers should maintain a professional working relationship throughout their time in your employment, this includes when they go into a performance review meeting. It's paramount that your managers understand when they go into a review meeting, that meeting is about that employee and no-one else. This includes not discussing the performance of other individuals or even comparing progress.

Do: Maintain a relaxed atmosphere

The dreaded annual review is something that many people struggle with. The added stress of the impending review can cause friction in the working environment. . Regular monthly, quarterly or bi-annually reviews – dependent on what suits your business – are just one way to ease this tension. Encouraging your managers to maintain a relaxed atmosphere throughout these reviews will also help your employees to embrace the review as a positive experience.

Don’t: Avoid discussing awkward topics

Sometimes, difficult topics are simply unavoidable. Should any of your managers be required to have a difficult conversation with an employee, then be sure you provide them with the correct training to handle the situation. In circumstances where a manager may have to deliver bad news, it's vital that they remain in control of the situation when an employee may give in to their emotions.

Do: Ensure employees know what they are being evaluated on

Performance reviews are going to be next to useless if employees don’t know what they’re being evaluated on. Whether you’re introducing a new performance review scheme, or onboarding a new employee, ensure they have the correct information and understand their performance goals.

Don’t: Inform the employee of a pay increase at the end

Your managers may find themselves holding back this information until the end of the review, but really this is a topic that should be breached in a separate meeting entirely. Ensure managers maintain focus on performance and if there is a pay rise, address this at another time.

Do: Keep the appraisal positive

You want your employees to go away feeling like they achieved something in the review, and the way to do this is to ensure managers keep them positive. Even if they have to provide feedback on what could be done better, there's always a way to provide this in a positive manner.

Don’t: Focus on the negative

If a manager has a long list of negatives for your employee, focusing on them isn’t going to be the most constructive use of anyone’s time. Highlighting what the employee could do better is useful, but helping them to plan how they could do this is much more progressive.

Do: Remain in control of your emotions

In some scenarios, employee reviews can become a tricky thing, especially when the employee in question doesn't handle certain criticism very well. Make sure you train managers to keep their own emotions at bay and not let them interfere as this will only cause the situation to escalate.

Don’t: Talk more than the employee

Effective performance reviews are about your employee, not your managers - it should be a two-way conversation. Although in part it is an assessment of how your manager is coping, it needs to be focused on the employee.

Do: Create a follow-up plan

Although part of any employee evaluation is assessing what's been achieved in previous months, there needs to be a big focus on what the future holds. Ensure your managers are setting measurable goals and creating constructive follow-up plans for their employees.

Don’t give unachievable and unrealistic goals

The purpose of a performance appraisal is to set aside some time in which managers and employees can assess performance and progress and work out how to improve it in the future. Setting unachievable or unrealistic goals doesn't promote a positive work ethic and could in fact cause your employees to feel overwhelmed and overworked, especially when – at the next meeting – they don't achieve those goals. Follow the SMART framework to make sure you're setting attainable goals.

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