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Mastering Performance Reviews [8 minutes]

Whether you call it an appraisal, a performance review, or something else entirely, carving out an official space for you to discuss individual performance with each of your employees is an essential part of getting the best out of your people [8 minute guide]. 

A formal review allows you and your employees to consider progress, update job descriptions and agree objectives, moving forward. Most people find six month or annual reviews work well. Follow these top tips to make sure your employee performance review process becomes a driver of performance.

Plan your performance review meetings

Whatever you and your team decide is the best approach, you should all agree the format, type and style of individual performance reviews. In general it helps if they are:

  • Regular
  • Simple – keep paperwork to a minimum
  • Planned – ask the employee to plan too
  • Kept to an agreed timescale
  • In a suitable location – ensure there is privacy

As a manager, you should always fully plan the review and explain what you expect of the individual before and during the session. You should also encourage constructive feedback on the review process at the end of the session, to help you and the organisation to improve.

Use two basic principles to structure your discussions with an employee:

The past

  • What has worked/ not worked (prepare three of each for discussion)?
  • What were the agreed objectives/ actions and have they been reached?
  • Has the individual’s development plan been followed?
  • Has support from the management team been effective?

The future

  • Revisit the company vision and both individual and team objectives
  • Agree what the individual would like to achieve by the next review
  • Ask what support the individual will need and what development they require

Keep it open

When you’re in the review, don’t do all the talking. Asking questions and taking the time to listen will make it easier for your employees to open up. At each part of the review, try and follow these steps, to get the most out of the process:

  • Inform. Give a brief overview of the situation
  • Invite. Ask your employee specific questions related to that situation
  • Listen. Really focus on what you are being told and what actions are needed because of it
  • Acknowledge. Demonstrate you have understood, feedback on key points and discuss steps to move forward

Take this further

Remember, it’s not all about being official. Reviews and feedback can – and should – happen at any time.

Make yourself available and open to talk. Knowing you’re around if anyone needs to work through an issue will give your team confidence and encouragement to push themselves further. You might want to block out time every month for open surgeries or drop-ins so that everyone in your team knows when they can get hold of you.