images-1.jpgAs a manager each December always brought a festive spirit in the office but also new budgets, projects for the new year and end of year performance reviews.  I must admit I never looked forward to the end of the year review. It would be a few years as a manager before I became comfortable with the review process. It took me a few years to figure out how to make those reviews useful to my direct reports. Let me share some of those lessons with you today.   The key to giving effective performance reviews is planning and specific documentation. As the manager be prepared with documentation / facts and specific examples about the employees performance (good performance and performance that needs improvement.) AVOID the halo and horns effects of recent events.  Recent activities often cloud your judgement of the employees overall performance for the year.

    Top 5 Tips in Giving Useful & Effective Reviews

1.Clear Evaluation Process

Specifically describe how you will evaluate the employees performance for the next year- then stick to that plan. The use of SMART goals helps. Also “weight” each item to be evaluated- so the employee knows which items are the most important- I used a percentage sustem- worked great. Discuss the organization’s process. Transparency is key in working through this process. Employees want to be assured that they will be evaluated fairly.

 2. Employee Feedback

Ask the employee to evaluate each aspect of their performance. Some companies have this as part of their formal process, others not.  This however is a great way to start the discussion. Also review time is NOT the time to dump. While corrective feedback is part of the process, lots of positive feedback is also very important.

   3. NOT the First TimeUnless a performance activity occurred within the few weeks prior to the review, performance, good and bad, needs to be communicated to the employee prior to the end of the year discussion. I started using quarterly alignment discussions. Later I used monthly alignment discussions. The alignment discussion helped to keep employees focused on what really mattered. This made the end of the year review easier… because the employee was aware of how they were doing throughout the year.

  4. Quantitative Feedback

How are you measuring performance? What are the standards? Behavior based items are harder evaluate…. so know how you are going to measure that performance.  For example if you are going to evaluate a person on their ability to be a “team player,” what does that specifically look like? How will you or the direct report know if they are meeting this requirement? There should be no guessing.

  5. Conversation

This is the key word in describing the review meeting. It is not a one sided meeting, where you do all the talking. POSITIVE communication is at the heart of this discussion. Ask more questions. Do more mentoring.  This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance the employee-manager relationship. When finished you want the employee to be motivated and excited to continue to grow, develop and contribute