In my experience, reviewing an employee’s performance each year leads to one of three situations:
1. A non-event – Nothing constructive for the employee or the company results from the process. The review happens because it’s supposed to-a formality. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief when it’s over because it went okay.
2. Disappointment – A “poor review” surprises employees. Disappointment follows, knowing they won’t receive an expected raise or aren’t considered for a promotion. They also feel underappreciated, which challenges their relationships with the boss and likely leads to disengaged behavior.
3. Problems escalate – Waiting to address employee behavior or performance problems at the annual performance review is too late. Any damage has been done and could escalate before the review comes around.
Provide ongoing, informal, but meaningful feedback to your employees on their performance. Supplement that feedback with formal quarterly review sessions.
“Ongoing, informal” means regular day-to-day and week-to-week interaction. Document activities as you deem appropriate.
“Formal” means a set date/time on the calendar to review and document progress against previously stated goals and expectations.
“Meaningful feedback” includes:
- Acknowledging specific areas of behavior in which employees are performing well while encouraging them to excel in those areas.
- Seeking out upcoming challenges that could reverse a positive trend, then addressing it appropriately.
- Identifying specific areas of behavior or performance that require improvement. Explain why you think these areas need to be better. Restate your expectations, then discuss action steps and a timeline for following up on these improvements.
You decide when to conduct employee performance reviews. Always keep in mind that a poorly executed employee performance review can lead to employee disengagement, poor working relationships, and/or possible legal ramifications. Be sure to follow your company’s guidelines