Performance reviews are a communication tool between an employee and a manager. Though many employers—as well as employees—dread these meetings because they can be awkward, this doesn’t need to be the case. Performance reviews can—and should—be used as a positive and constructive meeting to help an employee understand what they have done well and what they can improve on moving forward. As an employer, you can take steps to help ensure the meeting is much more comfortable for both parties.
Six helpful steps to ease the stress of performance reviews
- Hold reviews on a regular basis. A key to keeping annual performance reviews easy for both parties is to remove the element of surprise. By meeting with your employees on a regular basis, (e.g., quarterly), the employee will know what to expect at his or her annual review.
- Keep a diary of employee performance. To save the time and headache of having to remember everything an employee accomplished over a year’s time, keep a Word doc or spreadsheet of your employees’ performances. (Hint: if you conduct regular reviews, this can also help you keep track.)
- Make it a two-way conversation. After all, you are both working together to move the company forward. Just as you will prepare a list of items to talk about with your employee, ask him or her to come to the meeting prepared with items to discuss. It may be best to suggest he or she refers to the review from the past quarter, with any additional items that may have come up since then.
- Give all praise first. How has the employee gone above and beyond during the past year? Start the conversation on a positive note by listing all the great things your employee has accomplished and how he or she should keep up the good work in those areas.
- Introduce criticisms as positives. Don’t put an employee on the defensive by putting him or her in the hot seat. If the employee has an area that needs improvement, consider this a skill that he or she needs to develop further. For example, “I’d like to see you develop your Microsoft Office skills” or “I’d like to work with you to improve the process we use for XYZ reports.”
- End with a list of goals on both sides. The best managers offer their support to help their staff succeed. A performance review should end with a list of goals for the employee to work towards, and a list of goals for how you will provide support to that employee to reach those goals.
It just takes a little practice to master the art of performance reviews
As with anything, it can take time to get used to changes, even if they’re positive ones. But by tweaking your review process, you can help make it much easier and less stressful for everyone involved. And that can be the beginning of a much more harmonious relationship between you and your staff.
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