Strategies for an effective performance review requires planning image

What are our four strategies for a productive performance review?

For many employers, performance reviews can be the most stressful work conversations they have.

Quite often, managers try to deliver feedback like a sandwich, start with some positives, then talk about the negatives and finish with some more positives. It ends up sending a mixed message and can leave your employees feeling disappointed and confused.

We have compiled four strategies to help your performance reviews become more productive and less stressful for all:

1. Define Employee Expectations Early
  • Make it clear at the beginning of each year how you will evaluate each of your employees by setting their targets, KPIs and performance plans. Your employees will understand what is expected and allows you to hold them accountable.
  • Make sure you are aware of all your employees' career ambitions. You are then able to broaden their professional experiences which you can tailor to their career plan.
  • An hour or so before the meeting, give your employee a copy of the appraisal. By doing this, it allows the employee time to review, before coming to the meeting. The positive in doing this means they are ready for a business conversation not an emotional one.
2. Be Prepared Before the Review (Plan)
  • A few weeks before the review, ask your employees' to provide you with some instances they have been proud of in the last year. By doing this, it places a positive focus on the review from the beginning. 
  • Go over any notes you have kept and be sure to seek feedback from relevant managers.
3. Get Your Tone Right  Employee with his fingers crossed behind his back and waving hello
  • Make sure to have a clear message (i.e. avoid the feedback sandwich mentioned above). Otherwise, your good performers will be discouraged and your non-performers falsely encouraged. Instead of a mixed message, be consistent about what is important for a positive outcome.
  • Where your employee is a reliable worker, concentrate exclusively on their strengths and achievements, this will motivate your good employees.
  • For your underperforming staff, don't beat around the bush. Take the opportunity to confront their underperformance and request improvement. If you keep avoiding the issue, you are not doing the employee any favours. In essence, you are sabotaging their future as a potential valuable employee.
4. Coach Constructively
  • For your good performers, discuss their strengths and achievements. Ask them how they feel about how things are going; this should elicit their honest concerns and positive achievements.
  • Frame your feedback in terms of a STOP, START and CONTINUE model for both your good and low performers. Work out what your employee is doing that is not working, what is highly effective and what actions they should take to be more effective. Providing tools and constructive responses you are then enabling your employee to challenge themselves in line with their career objectives. 
  • Focus on behaviours, not character faults. When you focus on their character faults your making it personal, focus on their behaviours and align this to future objectives. Give them specific advice with demonstrable behaviours and outcomes.

Lastly, if you are discussing salary during the review (ideally its best to separate this into a separate meeting), discuss it at the beginning of the conversation, so it's not in the employee's mind the whole meeting.

Written by: Shali Manolev | Partner

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The information provided here does not constitute advice. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual situation. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.  We recommend that you contact Brentnalls SA before making any decision to discuss your particular requirements or circumstances.