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Looking Back, Constructively: How to Conduct an Effect Performance Review

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Performance reviews are dreaded equally by employees and managers alike. And yet, they are essential to meeting the goals of both the company and the employee.

Consider this: About 35% of U.S. employees say they are not getting enough regular feedback about their job performance. So despite the fear and apprehension, many feel towards performance reviews, they are still highly-regarded by most employees.

For managers, employee performance reviews represent an opportunity to gauge how well employees are aligned with department and company KPIs. 

So how do you give an effective performance review? Read on to discover everything you need to know about effective performance reviews that are beneficial to both the employee and the company.

Types of Reviews

Annual and quarterly performance reviews are the two most popular options and each has their advantages.

Annual Reviews: The 360-review format is used by many companies to issue a more complete review. Before the review, gather input from those who work directly with an individual about their job performance. 

Make sure the objectives of these meetings align with the annual goals of the company.

Quarterly Reviews: These reviews provide for more frequent feedback and opportunities to check in with an individual's and assess their progress. 

You can also check their performance stats for bonuses, raises, and commissions and reward those who deserve it.  

Give Feedback Throughout the Year 

Most of what is said during a performance review shouldn't be a surprise to the employee. Since employee reviews should be positive and encouraging, the last thing you want to do is blindside an employee with negative criticism.

This is why consistent feedback is so important. It builds trust and helps people feel a sense of purpose in your company. What's more, it's a critical component to improving employee retention.

Even if you don't do quarterly reviews, check in with your employees throughout the year. Show appreciation for their positive contributions and offer actionable ways to improve areas where they may be coming up short.

Prepare for Reviews

Schedule meetings with your employees about six weeks ahead of time. Encourage employees to gather their own performance data and write down anything they would like to talk about during the review.

Reviews should be a collaborative exercise where employees have equal time to address their own goals and provide suggestions about how management can help them to be in the best position to succeed.

Address Goals and Objectives

Before you can review employees, you must know what benchmarks provide the basis of your reviews.

Set SMART goals and objectives for each employee that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-measured.

Targets should also be synergistic, whereby the goals for the employee meet the KPI goals for your department. In turn, your department objectives need to square with the values and goals for the company.

Use Review Templates

You can print review templates and follow them verbatim. Or, you can use them simply as guidelines to help you touch on the most important aspects of the review.

Your company's HR software may already provide a template you can utilize. Betterteam and UCLA offer simple templates as well. You may find countless other templates through Google.

Use the template as a jumping-off point to the two-way conversation. From the company's point of view, all aspects of an employee's performance should relate to the company's KPI goals. To the employee, the company should provide opportunities for growth and realistic ways to meet their own individual goals.

The Bottom Line About Giving a Performance Review

Never lose sight that a performance review is supposed to be a constructive and positive meeting. It doesn't do anyone any good to give criticism without a realistic plan for improvement.

Praise employees for the good they bring to your company. And offer a specific plan of action to address weak areas in their performance. Make sure employees are armed with the information and tools they need to meet their goals.

If you liked this article, please check out more of our leadership content.

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