How to Make Performance Reviews Worth Your (and Your Employees’) Time

How to Make Performance Reviews Worth Your (and Your Employees’) Time

Performance reviews are a key management tool that companies commonly use, but an increasing number of employers are getting rid of these appraisals as they realize they're not producing the desired results. This, however, is largely due to how companies conduct their reviews. In reality, there are many ways to ensure performance reviews are informative and valuable to you and your employees. Let's explore a few common mistakes employers make in performance reviews to help you ensure your reviews are always effective and informative.

Conducting reviews once a year

One of the most common mistakes regarding performance reviews is sticking to an annual review cycle, as this risks you failing to remember everything from the year you want to discuss. In addition, once-a-year performance reviews can make employees feel unsupported, as they have fewer opportunities to pose questions and concerns.

To stay in line with performance evaluation best practices, have a short meeting once per quarter and a longer meeting once at the end of the year. This will allow you to check in on your employees regularly to ensure they meet their goals and receive the support they need.

Commenting only on performance

Another error with these reviews is commenting only on an employee's performance. When this is the norm, employees might be more likely to focus only on their successes and achievements without bringing up their concerns, as they may think that they need to emphasize their wins to receive promotions and raises. 

To ensure that your performance reviews are comprehensive and encourage professional development, try holding one meeting to discuss growth and goals and a separate meeting to discuss performance and compensation. This will enable you to set goals and brainstorm ideas for professional development while also taking the time to give praise for success.

Neglecting constructive criticism

When giving performance appraisals, many employers and managers try to avoid making comments that could be construed as negative. However, offering constructive criticism is crucial, especially when an employee's performance isn't up to par. Instead of focusing entirely on the positive feedback you can give, aim to provide constructive criticism to help employees improve their performance and understand where they need to develop their skills.

When giving constructive criticism, take care not to be overtly negative, as excessive negativity might cause your employees to feel resentful or underappreciated. This is why it's helpful to offer solutions for each critique you offer, such as identifying a weakness in an employee and pointing out a strength they can use to mitigate it.

"To ensure that your performance reviews are comprehensive and encourage professional development, try holding one meeting to discuss growth and goals and a separate meeting to discuss performance and compensation."

Focusing exclusively on weaknesses

Another common mistake when conducting performance reviews is focusing only on an employee's weaknesses. Though it's important to identify weaknesses through constructive feedback, it's equally important to celebrate strengths and wins. You can make your performance reviews encouraging and offer guidance on areas for improvement by discussing strengths and weaknesses and finding ways to showcase how the two can inform each other at work.

Using the same format for all teams and employees

Since different teams in a company will have differing goals, performance KPIs, and schedules, it's important to tailor each performance review to the employee's team and responsibilities. When you use the same review format for every employee, you risk missing out on critical discussions that employees won't bring up when they don't fit the routine. Instead, design a bespoke review process or templates for each of your company's teams to give everyone a personalized review experience.

Forgetting to follow up

One of the most crucial performance appraisal practices that employers forget about is following up with employees after reviews. This mistake can cause a slump in employee development, as some people may forget the goals discussed during performance reviews after a few months. To combat this, follow up with your employees regularly, checking in on any goals you set together, such as improving performance, developing a new skill, or working toward a shared outcome with another team.

Organizing reviews through manual processes

While using familiar programs and technology to complete your performance reviews is common, sticking to manual processes can be a mistake. This is because manual processes, such as creating spreadsheets and calendars by hand, can slow you down and take away from the time you could spend developing thoughtful review questions. Instead, look into performance review software that automates your HR processes. Such tools can save you time and give your employees a chance to learn a new program, which is yet another skill that can inform their work going forward.

These are a few of the most common errors companies make when conducting performance appraisals. To ensure that your employees always leave their performance reviews feeling motivated to improve and encouraged about their abilities, take care to avoid these mistakes. When you conduct performance evaluations, use a personalized approach, and check in with your team regularly throughout the year to get the most out of each performance review cycle.

More tips for successful performance reviews

If you're getting ready for your next performance review, here are five ways to prepare for it.

For inspiration about what to ask your employers, explore these six questions to ask during your next performance review.

For insight into new trends in performance management, read about the top performance management trends in employee reviews.

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