Performance Reviews – 9 Things That Can Improve The Discussion

When you conduct performance reviews, there is no way to guarantee that the discussion will end with both you and the employee in total agreement. This is especially the case if the review involves negative performance.

Nevertheless, there are some things you can do before and during the review to improve the discussion.  Consider these nine:
1. Give the employee sufficient time to prepare.  Do not announce a surprise, impromptu, or on-the-spot performance review. 
By doing this, you give the employee time to think about past performance and future goals.  You also have a chance to consider the employee’s performance and plan for the discussion. 
2. Let the employee know in advance the type of information that will be used to evaluate performance.  For example, goals achieved over the last 6 months, job description, prior performance review data, etc.
Also, let the employee know the type of information to bring to support or explain performance during the period discussed.
3. Let the employee participate in the performance review.  Listen, without interrupting. 
Also, ask questions that will encourage a two-way conversation.
4. Focus on several behaviors, actions, and outcomes when you evaluate the employee’s overall performance during the review period.
Do not use one single event or impression as the only thing you consider in evaluating the person’s performance.
5. Give the employee feedback prior to the review if there have been ongoing performance problems.  Do not wait until the review to talk about problems that have been ongoing for months.  
The review should not be the place where the employee discovers that he or she has been performing poorly over the last six months.

6. Consider factors that might have been beyond the employee’s control. 
For instance, insufficient resources, materials, or information might have impacted the person’s ability to meet goals.
7. Consider the fact that something might have changed to affect the employee’s performance since the last review. 
For example, maybe things occurred like a loss of a valuable resource, a change in company mission, or some personal trauma.
8. Consider that you might have done (or not done) certain things to prevent the employee from achieving goals.
For example, maybe the employee fails to meet deadlines because you always wait until the last minute to provide essential information.
9. End the performance review on a high-note.  Express confidence in the employee’s ability to improve, if improvement is needed.  Express confidence in the employee’s ability to continue excelling if no improvement is needed.
Most importantly, do not let the person leave the performance review thinking about all the negative things you have said about his or her performance. 
If the person is still employed, she or he had to have done something right; or at least has the potential to do something right.
Remember The Impact Of Surprise And Consideration
The approach you use to prepare for and conduct the review can greatly affect the discussion.  Employees do not want to be surprised.  Additionally, they do not want to feel like you have ignored their side of the discussion or that you have overlooked things beyond their control.  The nine ideas in this article can help in these areas.  Give them a try during your next performance review.

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