Performance Management

How to Conduct A Productive Performance Review for Managers and Employees

The importance of performance reviews to the Managers and Employees of an organization cannot be overemphasized. Most successful companies today follow the right examples of performance reviews and are fully invested in it.

Performance review measures the efforts put in by every individual in an organization. It is a time to get helpful feedback as a manager and the time for employees to get rejuvenated. 

For HR executives and business owners, it could be a better chance of finding out what employees are doing right or wrong in other to boost the empowerment of employees and not an opportunity to criticize. 

For better understanding, you can think of performance review as an opportunity to:

  • Celebrate positive efforts and 
  • Enlighten the areas that require improvements

Building your performance review around these metrics will give employees the information needed to grow in their capacity, hence productivity flourishes.

However, review time may pose a range of difficulties, most especially if one of your employees needs to make significant improvements in certain areas. It can be useful to have some starter performance review phrases handy to help you conduct a professional and in-depth review that provides valuable feedback and avoids hurt feelings or defensiveness.

In this article, we will talk about the qualities of a good performance review, comparison of some examples of good and bad phrases, and tips to keep in mind while doing performance reviews or to fill a performance appraisal form.

What is a performance review?

A performance review sample

A performance review can also be referred to as performance appraisal, performance evaluation, career development discussion, or employee appraisal.

According to David M. Pollack, Ph.D., Vice President, Consulting for APTMetrics

“A performance review is a process in which an employee’s job performance is documented, reviewed, and evaluated. In most cases, the employee is provided with feedback about the effectiveness of his or her performance. Organizations often use the results of the review to make employment decisions, which may include promotions, compensation adjustments, access to developmental opportunities, and the like.”

Considering the rate of reviews which vary from company to company, He also added that, “Although the most effective managers review the performance of their employees and provide feedback continually. The use of performance reviews helps ensure that review and feedback will occur at least once or twice per year on a formal basis and will be conducted consistently across managers.”

Four qualities of a good performance appraisal

1. Goal Centric

Each review should be able to go over the goals set when the employee started the job or during the last performance review. Then the review should be able to examine how well the employee has done towards reaching these goals. In this case, Having the employees set personal OKRs with a performance management tool like Happierco could be of enormous help. Moreso, you and the employee should address the desirability of trying to achieve targets that haven’t yet been accomplished, and both of you should set future goals.

2. Comprehensiveness:

Performance review should not be a response to specific errors, omissions, or incidents. A good performance review practice is periodically scheduled as specified in the policy (most organizations choose to conduct appraisals either annually or twice a year) and reflect on overall performance over the specified period. It is also essential to schedule the discussion a few days beforehand, to allow the employee to prepare their goals and contribution before the discussion takes place and prevent an employee from being taken unaware or at a bad time.

3. Focus on the future:

All possibilities for improvement can be dealt with in two ways: either by focusing on the unchangeable past or by applying the lesson learned to future performance. For example, an ineffective appraiser might say something like, “Your presentations really miss the mark. We hope to see more sales,” whereas an effective appraiser will say something like, “Alright, so your presentations haven’t been yielding profits. Let’s discuss what you’ve learned through this phase that could enhance your next presentation and put a bigger smile on faces.” An effective performance review results in clear short- and long-term goals that can be achieved and does not reprimand or discipline past failures.

4. Employee Autonomy:

Not only is performance review a good time for managers to share their comments with their staff, but also a great time to receive insight from employees regarding their working conditions, how they feel about the company’s culture, and their overall satisfaction and engagement. In a busy organization, a one-on-one period with employees in every role should be maximized and used.

In a useful performance appraisal, employees are allowed to set goals for themselves and their departments.

They are asked if:

  • They have adequate resources, education, and support to perform to the best of their abilities.
  • Their working conditions comfortable, safe, and free from harassment and discrimination.

Integrating this extra time into your performance assessment process always pays off; it enhances the morale of employees, helps you identify and resolve issues, and may even help you simplify or improve processes.

Examples of good and bad phrases to use/avoid in appraisal comments 

During performance reviews, use clear, nonjudgmental language that focuses on results and behavior. Below are some examples of good phrases and bad phrases to use and avoid, respectively, when conducting a performance appraisal:

1- Instead of using phrases not clearly expressed or defined, try to use phrases that cite specific:

  • Bad: Your work has been sloppy lately.
  • Good: Your last three reports contained an unacceptable number of statistical errors.

2- Avoid giving all attention to the performance instead focus on the person and use words that restore confidence in the capacity of the employee:

  • Bad: You’re obviously not a mathematician.
  • Good: I know you’re capable of producing more accurate work.
  • Bad: The report from the last sales was terrible. You have to work harder.
  • Good: You can only imagine how great your next sales will be if only you know the marketing potential you possess.

3- Instead of making statements with blanket demands, asks for feedback on how to improve performance – It shows you really want to help out.

  • Bad: Don’t let it happen again. =
  • Good: How can we prevent errors from creeping into reports?
  • Bad: You’re not very detail-oriented.
  • Good: I’ve seen some small errors in your client’s accounts. Do you think it might help if we take a look at them together?
  • Bad: You’re not smart enough on strategic thinking.
  • Good: We didn’t hit our targets on our last campaign. What do you think we should do differently next time?

Five tips to keep in mind when conducting a performance review:

1. Give it your all

Some managers do performance reviews just because they think everyone else does it. Below are some key benefits you can gain if you genuinely conduct a performance review:

  • You’ll be much better informed about the way things are at your company.
  • There will be more clarity because you’ll get a chance to set your expectations for staff.
  • It creates an opportunity for you to express your gratitude to hardworking employees.
  • You will also get an opportunity to discuss any issues in a professional, formal setting.
  • You will be able to know how happy your employees are.
  • Together, you’ll find ways to improve their performance.
  • They’re going to feel safer, valued, and included.

2. Be prepared

It’s essential to take a look back at the employee’s entire record for your performance review. It will help you to assess their performance within the last period (3 – 6 months) and make sure nothing has gone wrong; hopefully, their performance will be the same (if good) or even better.

You will also effortlessly be able to focus on more recent events, especially the bad ones, but you need to consider the big picture to make sure you have an excellent review.

3. Be positive:

People may be scoffing at the old and cliched “sh*t sandwich,” but when it comes to performance reviews, it is actually a helpful little metaphor.

You don’t want to overwhelm an employee with negativity and criticism; that’ll leave them feeling uncomfortable, unhappy, and completely undervalued.

Remember to talk about the positives, thank the staff for their hard work and, be constructive when talking about the negatives; how can you work together to fix this problem?

If there aren’t any positives, then you need to consider why and whether this person is right for your team – You can also check how to motivate an underperforming employee to learn how to handle such conditions.

4. Set some SMART goals:

Now obviously, a massive part of this process is going to be goal-setting for the future.

Before the review, consider your expectations for the future, the development made so far, and if there’s room for more improvement.

Also, you should consider how you can support these new goals as a manager; can you offer more training, support, or resources?

And ensure that these goals are always SMART (Specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-based).

Last but not least, your performance review mustn’t be the only time you speak to your employees.
You should say thanks, give feedback, and generally communicate with staff daily. Do you want to understand what goes on in your company? If yes! Then, initiating regular internal communication is a necessity if you do it right.

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