Turn Performance Reviews Into Opportunities for Growth

June 23, 2011

Evaluating employees is one of the most unpleasant parts of a manager’s job. Of course, employees hate it, too; it feels too much like being sent to the principal’s office when you are pretty sure you really didn’t do anything wrong. However, evaluations play a valuable role in helping the organization achieve its goals. By discussing what the manager and employee expect from each other and how well those expectations are being met, everyone has a chance to grow and establish stronger connections of communication and trust.

Managers are accountable for the performance of their group. Taking time on a regular basis to discuss performance issues and opportunities with individual team members actually provides a benefit to the employee, the manager and the entire organization.

Performance appraisals are used to:

  • increase communication and understanding;
  • reiterate job requirements;
  • recognize positive actions;
  • identify areas for improvement;
  • create an action plan, and
  • identify employee’s issues and needs

Once a date has been set for the evaluation conference, help your employees to prepare for the interview by asking them to evaluate their performances on their own. One way to get them started is to give them a checklist with a set of topics that will be discussed during the conference. Have both the supervisor and subordinate fill out this list separately and then compare answers during evaluation. Some items to include might be:

What do I like best about my job? Least?

List specific accomplishments during this appraisal period.

Areas I could improve on .

Areas in which I would like additional training.

What changes would help my performance?

What goals do I have for next review period?

What goals for next five years?

What additional responsibilities could I assume?

List special situations handled.

The whole purpose of this session is to give and receive feedback so that the relationship between the employee, the manager, the team and the company can continue to improve and flourish. Giving feedback is essential to maintaining and improving the performance of your employees and peers. However, if the feedback method is negative, people begin to feel threatened. Thus, performance improvement is reduced.

Keep in mind that you and the employee are a team. He or she should be able to think of you as another resource, someone with whom to freely exchange ideas. For this reason, follow the PRAISE method during these sessions. Each letter in PRAISE signifies an important element in the communication process:

P Set a purpose for the feedback session.

R Request input.

A Acknowledge positive behaviors.

I Invite concerns.

S State approval/concerns—approval for positive. behaviors/performance and what your concerns are and why they. are important to you for substandard performance.

E Explore ideas for retaining positive performance and eliminating substandard performance.

You might even consider taking an entirely different approach to the idea of performance reviews. Performance reviews are one of the necessary evils of corporate life. They always feel a little awkward for both the supervisor and the employee, both of whom dread the experience. One good way to take the cloud off of the process is to avoid waiting for employee reviews sessions to bring up serious problems and concerns related to employee performance. If an employee is failing to meet a company standard, it is in the best interest of both the employee and the company for that issue to be addressed separately and immediately, as soon as it presents itself. If you provide employees with regular, helpful feedback whenever it is needed, problems can be addressed sooner and more effectively. What about those “official reviews” then? With the fear of being blind-sided by a list of complaints and criticisms out of the way, the employee can relax and begin to view regularly scheduled performance reviews more as brainstorming sessions discuss with management the ways to make the job go even better. This takes the pressure off of everyone, and for the manager, this is good news indeed.

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