Top Tips for Improving Performance Reviews

The performance review process is not about writing good performance reviews.

It is about planning a trajectory for the employees work in the coming year – based on an analysis of their performance in the past year – it is about influencing the future.

Always ask the employee to provide you with their own self assessment 2-3 weeks before you have to deliver their review.  Ask the to give examples of their work that support their judgement.

Only look at their self-review after you have prepared your review of their performance for the past year . Identify where there is agreement and open your review meeting with a discussion of these areas. This gets the meeting off to a solid start and helps to make some quick progress. Leave areas where your assessments differ to later in the meeting.

Where your assessment differs from theirs – whether you have rated then more highly or less highly than they have rated themselves – then you should re-visit the DATA on which you have based your assessments and in the review be prepared to back up your assessment with your data.

Before you show your hand ask them to give specific examples of things that they did in the last year that have led them to their judgement.  If they produce data that you have overlooked and that seriously casts doubt on your data and your judgement then be prepared to revise your review.  THIS SHOULD HAPPEN VERY RARELY.  If it does happen you need to urgently review your own process for collecting data on employee performance throughout the year and using it to prepare your reviews.

You should have several pieces of data available to support your judgement – collected over the past year – especially where it is less favourable than their own.  You do have data to base your review on – don’t you?

After the review the employee should be clear on:

  • Your overall assessment of their performance last year;
  • What this has earned them (promotion, pay rise, recognition, more responsibility, no change, less responsibility, demotion, termination);
  • Specific goals and objectives for the coming year.

The performance of your team members is a direct reflection of your performance as a manager.  If you have one or more people whose performance is not moving in the ‘right’ direction then you need to seriously re-think the way that you are managing them.

Don’t be tempted to provide ‘vanilla’ reviews in an attempt to hide your own management weaknesses.

You can only provide good performance reviews if you effectively manage individual performance throughout the year.

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