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Tips for conducting an effective employee performance review meeting

Use this framework to conduct a fair and meaningful evaluation process. By Priya Prakasan

Annual review meeting tend to be dreaded affairs that both, employees and leaders, would like to get done with as quickly as possible. The uncomfortable atmosphere isn’t conducive to having a comprehensive review that provides value. Reviews can’t be scrapped. They are essential to ensuring an organisation’s continuing effectiveness. The onus is on the leader to ensure there’s a fair and meaningful evaluation process. Here’s a framework you can use to give a successful review.

1. Prepare for each employee
Avoid following a one-size fits all approach. Prepare for each and every one-on-one meeting. Take the time to understand and access your employee’s goals, progress, strengths as well as shortcomings before the review. Don’t use lack of time as an excuse to wing it during the review. Your employee will notice the lack of attention and pick up on the disinterest. So prepare before to ensure you have an engaging and productive review meeting. This will help you provide specific examples of actions and opportunities you’d like them to capitalise on or avoid. It will help you understand and identify the areas that need to be worked upon. Take down notes to help you lead the conversation with ease.

2. Request for employee self-assessment
Just like you’re preparing beforehand for the review, ask your employee to do the same. Request them to do a self-review so that they’re better aware of the areas that need improvement and clearer on their expectations from you and their job. It’s an opportunity for them to reflect on their work and share their learnings with you. This will make it easier for you to lead a more productive and honest review as well as understand what motivates them. Also, if there is any misalignment between your views and theirs then it’s bound to come out at the review. So you can use the opportunity to clarify their goals and your plan for the team.

3. Challenge your own preconceived notions
Often leaders unwittingly let their personal preferences, negative comments, etc dictate how they interact with their employees. Personal assumptions have no place in an employee review. For a fair and balanced performance review, the focus should only be on the employee’s professional performance. Take into consideration employee effectiveness and results, and base your review on those factors. Good leaders treat everyone equally and never let personal preferences get in the way.

4. Balance positives and negatives
Handling feedback can be tricky. So in order to do it effectively try to maintain an ideal praise-to-criticism ration. Balance is the key to a productive review meeting. Too much of negative feedback can lead to low employee morale and too much positive feedback can lead to complacency, lack of enthusiasm and initiative. Guide the employee through areas of concern for future improvement and give praise for the past achievements.

5. Focus on both improvement and pitfalls
This is an extension of the previous point. Rather than focussing on behaviour and attitude, provide specific, actionable feedback. Discuss specific issues that need to be addressed. Identify missed opportunities as well as actions that had a significant positive impact. Pay attention to both—their progress as well as mistakes made. Highlight specific examples so they understand your message. Summarise the performance review conversation and express your support.

6. Set clear goals and objectives
Using information you’ve gathered together create strategic short-term and long-term objectives for the employee. If needed, set new goals that take into consideration company objectives as well as his/her personal goals. Work together to ensure that these employee-specific goals align with those of the broader organisation. What are the areas that need work? Draw up actionable steps that will be the framework for the year ahead. Set measureable goals with realistic benchmarks. Use the review meeting as an opportunity to facilitate professional and personal development. It will further engage employees and motivate them to work harder. This in turn will reduce employee turnover.

Photograph: Waewkidja/Freepik.com

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