Performance reviews are often anticipated with the same enthusiasm as a visit from an unpleasant relative. Many employees view performance reviews as a necessary evil; the gauntlet they must run to get a pay increase. Supervisors often view them as time consuming make-work that easily leads to contentious discussions; a task completed only to keep the HR department off their back. Can performance reviews be positive and productive experiences? In short, yes!
Consider a performance review as a series of opportunities. A performance review is an opportunity to focus on the strengths and the needs of the employee, chart employee progress, and reprioritize goals. It’s an opportunity to build relationships, encourage open discussion, seek ideas for improvement, and provide positive motivation for employee engagement. Attitude is everything.
A meaningful and productive performance review will provide the following:
- For the employee: a clear understanding of what is expected and what needs to be done to meet those expectations
- For the employee: a chance to openly discuss aspirations and seek guidance, support or required training
- For the supervisor: an opportunity to identify and articulate the employee’s strengths and weaknesses
- For the supervisor: clearly link individual employee objectives and expectations with broader organizational objectives
- For the supervisor: an occasion to form a more productive relationship based on mutual trust and understanding
For the company, a consistent, positive and productive approach to performance reviews offers many advantages, including effective communication of the organization’s objectives, engaged employees who know they are valued, an increased sense of cohesiveness and loyalty, ideas for company improvement, the identification and development of future leaders, and improved overall company performance.
Here are a few practical suggestions for supervisors
- Share performance review processes and related documents when the employee is hired.
- No surprises! If an employee is surprised by a supervisor’s performance assessment, the supervisor is not being effective in their day-to-day communications. Supervisors should ensure that communication and feedback is frequent and on-going.
- Have separate meetings for performance reviews and merit increases.
- Supervisors should emphasize the links between the employee’s efforts and the success of the organization overall.