Perfecting Performance Reviews through Best Practices—Part II

Sep 15, 2015

Perfecting Performance Reviews through Best Practices—Part II

Formal performance reviews are the best way to communicate the strengths of your employees and identify areas for improvement in order for them to become more effective and efficient in their respective roles. Performance reviews do not necessarily have to be an uncomfortable process for employees and managers. Instead, evaluations can be mutually beneficial to both parties when an effective strategy is in place.

It is crucial for managers to have a solid performance review plan to avoid the stress and anxiety that often accompanies employee evaluations. As a way to incorporate all of the best practices we discussed in our blog last week, this three-step method can help managers reap the most benefits from the employee performance review process.

Step 1

Prior to a formal performance review, provide the following questions to each direct report and give them about a week to write down their answers. These questions focus on self-evaluation of employee performance.

  1. What does success in your position look like to you?
  2. What are your expectations of your manager and of the company?
  3. What are the things you do well in your position?
  4. What are the things that keep you from doing your best in this position?
  5. What does your manager do well?
  6. What gets in your manager's way?

Step 2

As a manager, you also need to answer questions about each of your direct reports. The questions focus on the manager's perspective of employee performance and should be documented in the formal review form as your own feedback.

  1. What does success in the employee's position look like to me, including observable, measurable target goals?
  2. What are my expectations of the employee?
  3. What things does the employee do well in his or her position?
  4. What things hamper the employee in his or her position?

Step 3

A series of three brief meetings follows, ultimately leading up to establishing the formal performance review document. After the employee has completed his or her self-evaluation, the manager should sit down with the employee and listen to the results of his or her self-evaluation. This is a learning opportunity for the manager to understand how the employee perceives his or her own performance, not an opportunity for the manager to provide feedback. The next meeting provides an opportunity for the manager to communicate his or her perspective on the employee's performance.

The manager then takes the answers from both the employee's self-evaluation and the manager's perspective questions and merges them into one final performance document—the formal performance review document.

Finally, a third meeting is held with the employee to confirm and sign off on the performance outcomes and expectations for the upcoming year. The overall goals and outcomes or action items should include some of those identified by the employee so the employee has ownership of his or her annual goals. This also eliminates the potential for the employees to state that they had no input regarding their annual goals.

Afterward, it is best if the manager and employee meet on a quarterly basis to revisit the desired outcomes and process goals to confirm that the employee is on track to achieve these annual goals. This constant communication eliminates surprises and provides an opportunity for the manager to coach the employee throughout the year on any process goals or expectations that aren't being met.

Best practices and this three-step process help change the annual performance review from a much-dreaded judging act to a coaching process whereby managers can clearly define success and communicate their expectations. Performance review best practices reduce anxiety and defensiveness and allow the employee to take ownership of his or her goals. Through the use of a formal performance review process, employees and managers can develop a strong line of communication that ensures both parties effectively commit to the same set of expectations.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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