Employee reviews should be an ongoing process. For example, you’re responsible for conducting employee reviews for your department, and a direct reports annual or semi-annual review is past due. It’s not that you don’t want to complete the review—it’s because you’re so busy, and it takes a lot of work to prepare for a review properly. You want to be sure your evaluation is fair and honest. But what message are you sending by being late, especially if salary increases are attached to the review?
Employee Reviews Should Be Ongoing Process
A review shouldn’t be annual or semi-annual. It should be continuous, ongoing, and constant. If it’s been six months or a year since you looked at the previous review, a year since you analyzed improvement areas, and a year since you considered the employee’s pay structure, the review preparation becomes a time-consuming task. And I’m not certain a fair evaluation can be accomplished when it hasn’t been looked at for so long. However, if you consider the review a process of improvement to be revisited throughout the year, preparation becomes manageable because you’ve been preparing for the review all year.
The review process should be year long
Look at the previous performance review at least once per month. Choose areas where improvement is needed and where improvement has been made and share these with employees throughout the year.
Set benchmarks for improvement
Continuously concentrate on areas of improvement, setting expectations, and the activities required to achieve them.
Don’t surprise anyone
An employee should have an understanding of their level of performance before the review. If you’re interacting and mentoring throughout the year, they’ll know where they stand.
Now You’re Ready to Conduct the Review… Almost
Know the positive performance areas and areas that need improvement based on observable behavior, objective criteria, and results within their control.
Budget 30-45 minutes
Give the employee your full attention. Don’t allow interruptions.
Start with positives
If you begin with negatives, you take the chance of the employee shutting down. If they’ve earned a pay increase, that can be a positive place to start.
Be honest but not negative
Use tact and professionalism, maintain a professional tone, and base critiques on facts.
Use activities based performance improvement
Set activities to reach goals. You can’t do goals you need to outline activities. Begin with activities to continue, improve, or stop.
In the opening paragraph, I asked what kind of message you send to an employee when you’re late on reviews. If this has happened to you, you already know the answer. The message is that you don’t care about the employee, are inconsiderate, and lack organization. Do you conduct performance reviews? What have you learned?
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