A Manager’s Guide to Performance Review Meeting

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Performance reviews are usually yearly or bi-annual reviews done by managers to assess the performance of their team members and figure out what is working and what is not. It adds value to HR, employees, and the company as a whole. Regular performance reviews are useful in identifying areas for growth and help form career goals and objectives based on that information.

Performance review meetings can be daunting especially for a new manager. If you are someone who is stressed about how to do performance reviews, this guide will help you out to get the basics in place. This approach will help anyone new or old perform review meetings much more efficiently. Start from here if you are looking to feel more confident while using a performance rating scale as well as conducting a review meeting. Following these five steps will help you have more productive conversations with your employees.

1. Set the Tone and Agenda of the Performance Review Meeting

Make it clear from the beginning that the goal of the performance review meeting is to discuss what is working and what is not with the aim of helping the employee, the manager, and the company achieve their goals. The employee should understand very clearly that the purpose behind the performance review meeting is to establish what the employee can and should be doing to perform better.

Share beforehand how you would like to structure the meeting and employee performance review template. We suggest starting from discussing the existing goals, employee performance against those goals, moving to strengths, creating new goals based on performance and strength of the employee, and ending the conversation on further improvement measures. Don’t forget to remind the employee that it is a two-way discussion and they are more than welcome to share their opinion.  

2. Review the Performance Against the Objectives

To ensure maximum efficiency out of the performance review meeting, we would suggest you share employee performance review templates with your employees and ask them to review their own performance against the agreed performance objectives or standards. Have a rating system in place that can help employees rate themselves against different performance parameters. This can become a baseline for further discussion during the performance review meeting.

Add your own feedback and comments to the existing employee performance review based on your observation and understanding of the employee’s performance. Address strengths as they are brought up, and reinforce the ones that are particularly helpful for the organization. Always backup your feedback with concrete examples as it helps establish trust between you and the employee.

 If there are areas where the employee is lacking, discuss improvement measures. Focus on presenting constructive feedback instead of finger-pointing. Revisit objectives if they are not applicable anymore. 

To give people a better idea of where they can implement change, here are a few examples of constructive feedback comments – “have you thought about using this method, it could help you streamline the process in a better way” or “instead of doing this you might want to do this because …” 

3. Review Existing Performance Objectives

Performance objectives cannot remain the same year over year, hence it becomes important to review them annually during the performance review meeting. As business needs evolve in a company, so should the corresponding performance objectives. A key part of the employee performance review process is to revisit the objectives and rewrite them accordingly.

Based on our performance review tips, take each objective one by one and see if it is still relevant in the current scenario. Try to figure out what new performance objectives can be added that would add to the growth of both employees and the company.

 Don’t make this a one-way process, instead have a discussion with your employee to understand their interests, strengths, weaknesses and then frame the objectives. Let employees be self-aware and present their own ideas to you. Annual performance review is all about understanding what is working and what is not. 

4. Discuss Learning and Development Plans

One of the most important performance review tips you should keep in mind is to give employees a chance to suggest ideas for self-improvement. Employees are more likely to take constructive feedback if they are the ones who brought it up initially. Self-suggested ideas by employees are more likely to be adopted with enthusiasm. To avoid any misinterpretation during the annual performance review, try to give concrete examples to back up your feedback.

Try to narrow down the feedback to the employee, by suggesting specific issues and discussing specific solutions to the problem at hand. Abstract ideas such as leadership, progress, performance enhancement might create ambiguity. Try to negotiate a plan and agree on a timeline to revisit improvements. Clarify that your intention behind the criticism is to provide direction and help enhance the performance of the employee. 

5. Review and Summarise the Meeting

While ending the meeting, quickly go over the main points of the performance review meeting. Highlighting the success and achievements of the employee and how it is contributing towards the organization’s success. Go through the agreed improvement areas and future learning plan. Check if the employee agrees with the plan and is completely on board. 

Another important point to keep in mind while ending the meeting is to close it on a positive note. Positive feedback helps employees not only understand what they should improve but also what they should continue doing. Regular positive feedback helps employees feel valued and more productive throughout the year.

Ask employees to give feedback on the meeting to check if there is anything that has not been discussed. In general, check with the employees if they have any suggestions regarding how to do performance reviews more effectively. 

Summarise agreements and what happens next in the performance review process. Share the employee performance review copy with the employee for perusal and ask them to accept it from their end. It gives them a chance to ask for clarifications or question the feedback if any. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Conversation

Do:

  • Be Prepared

Make sure that you’re well informed about the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, achievements before calling the review meeting. Keep all the necessary data and materials ready to ensure your conversation is backed by facts.

  • Present Facts

Don’t try to sugarcoat things, instead be factual and direct with the employee. Make sure they understand where they are lacking and what steps could be taken to improve the performance. Let the employee know if there are any work-related behaviors that the employee should continue, stop, or start.

  • Listen Carefully

While you share your review with the employee, make sure that it doesn’t turn into a one-way conversation. Ask employees to share their own opinion, thoughts, views of their performance. Remain calm while listening to their side of the story and mutually agree on the next steps.

Don’ts

  • Wait for a Formal Review Meeting

Do not wait for annual or half-yearly reviews to share feedback with employees. If you observe any issues in employee performance, highlight them as soon as possible so that there are no surprises during the performance review meetings. Feedback and communication should be an ongoing process throughout the year for better results.

  • Focus On Negative Behaviours

Make sure that your focus is on the job and not the person. The performance review must cover an employee’s overall work performance and not an employee’s attitude, personality, or character.

  • Make It Personal

Ensure that you are focusing more on the solution instead of the problem. Employees want feedback that is constructive and lets them know how to improve further. Discuss with the employee about what could be the future steps in terms of training, support, mentorship as they are as much interested in finding a solution as you.

Conclusion

Performance reviews hold a lot of significance in today’s day and age. They not only help understand employee performance but are also beneficial in measuring productivity. Managers must diligently share constructive feedback, review goals, identify development opportunities, and help employees understand their strengths and weaknesses. 

Performance appraisals must never be treated as a one-way dialogue instead it should be a 2-way conversation where issues and concerns along with successes and plans for the future are discussed in equal capacity by both manager and the employee. This is a great way to ensure that concerns and grievances are dealt with in a shared way.

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