10 Tips for Seamless Performance Review Meetings Between Employees and Managers
Whatever you call them in your company, appraisals, feedback meetings, employee performance review meetings, you can't underestimate the importance of regular, face-to-face meetings with your people. Get them right, and you encourage motivation and engagement from individuals but get them wrong, and you could risk the opposite and also potential turnover. Worryingly, a Harvard Business Review survey showed that only 42% of individuals trust their boss compared to 58% who trust a stranger. With figures like this, is it any wonder that performance review meetings can be a challenge to master and dread for all involved?
So, here are ten tips to ensure you and your leaders carry out effective employee performance review meetings with all your people, however frequently they occur.
1. Do what's right for your organisational culture
Different companies will have different approaches to performance management and its measurement. For example, Facebook believes in ongoing performance feedback. They have systems in place that allow all managers and employees to give and receive feedback at any time during the year. Their regular reviews between managers and employees also include employee-to-manager and peer feedback. And something must be working, as Facebook was voted the 11th best place to work in the Glassdoor best places to work in 2021.
So, consider your company values and goals and ensure that your performance management strategy aligns with your business and people strategies.
2. Use performance review forms
As before, the type of review form or template you use will depend on your company's approach to performance reviews and your culture. ACAS suggests several forms for different situations, but you'll need to adapt any basic form to tailor them to your place of work.
For example, you may have a GOOD form (focusing on goals, obstacles, opportunities, and decisions) which will encourage conversation, performance review, and future planning. Or documents used for continuous, regular review meetings may show the percentage levels (of achievement) against overall performance, goals, and improvements. Such measurements give clear direction and show employees where they’re achieving and what they need to do in the set timeframe.
Therefore, however you design your performance review templates, it's preferable to create different ones for different meetings, e.g. you may have quarterly, mid-year, and annual meeting forms and a performance improvement plan (PIP) form.
3. Discuss and set goals
A performance review meeting is about open communication and should be a discussion, not a manager dictating feature goals and wants. Your people need to know what you expect of them, and SMART goals will set this in place. As you consider and agree on goals, discuss how these will be measured and evaluated and how the employee can assess their success against the goals. Involve the employee and ensure that goal setting and reviews are collaborative, not dictatorial.
4. Employee performance reviews are two-way conversations
If you want to get the best from your people, don't you need to hear how they find their job, development, management, etc.? Of course, you do, but sometimes it's easier to tell yourself you'll ask for employee feedback rather than actually doing it. You should both give and receive feedback during every employee performance review meeting. Performance review meetings must be two-way conversations to drive future performance effectively and should be specific to each person for impact and growth.
5. There should be no surprises!
Undoubtedly, you've heard it before, but to reiterate, don't save up negative feedback or performance issues feedback until the review meeting. If there is a problem with your employee's conduct or performance, address it immediately. It's unfair to the person or the team if you let it carry on for months without discussion. The performance review meeting might be a good time to review an issue you've previously discussed, but don't surprise the person with something you've saved up over time.
6. Use evidence-based feedback
Come prepared for a performance review meeting. Nothing says you don't care, like a lack of preparation and a feedback tirade lacking examples. Gather the feedback in advance and use evidence-based feedback to discuss positive and constructive feedback in the meeting.
For example, if an individual demonstrated excellent teamwork in a project, tell them what they did that was effective and how it helped the end goal. Similarly, if you need to discuss a project, skill, or area that the employee didn't do so well in, bring pre-prepared data or examples to support your feedback, don't just give your opinion.
7. Incorporate 360-degree feedback
Whether you use a basic template or a more advanced system for 360-degree feedback, it should form part of your performance review meetings. 360-degree feedback is a way to gather a range of feedback on an employee from more than one source (which may include peer, direct report, and manager feedback and self-evaluation). It allows for a lack of manager bias and gives a rounded, more accurate evaluation of an individual.
Take time to ensure you're measuring the right skills, keep the report (and responses) short, specific and confidential. In addition, ensure the person responding understands the purpose and clarifies that they are commenting for an overall picture of the person and should therefore focus on strengths and development areas. Also, customise the 360-degree feedback reports where possible to ensure they reflect your company's tone, values, and competencies.
8. Ensure to feedback regularly
Although there is no specific number of times you should meet an individual to give them feedback, once a year isn't going to suffice! Ideally, once a month or quarter should be enough to review or amend objectives, discuss performance, and gain employee feedback about their development and job. If you can, diarise the meetings for the year, so you both know when they are. And although regular meetings may feel like a time commitment, the more regularly you carry them out, the less time each one should take.
9. Focus on the now
It’s tricky because, traditionally, appraisals review the past year and the objectives set for the last twelve months. However, although you may discuss past performance and goals during an annual review, it's possible to forget achievements, training, or specifics.
It is easy, generally, though, to focus on things that didn't go well, such as failed deadlines, but it might be challenging to remember the detail about why this was the case. Therefore, by holding regular performance review meetings, you're focusing on recent performance, allowing clear memories and an ability to focus on what you can shape going forwards and how.
10. Consider your behavior and engage!
And finally, although it's not easy to pre-plan your mood, try! It doesn't set a comfortable atmosphere if you come to an employee performance review meeting stressed or late. Similarly, (again, it's hard to control) don't keep yawning or avoid eye contact with your employee because you won't appear committed or engaged. Instead, listen to what they have to say, give them praise where necessary, and provide honest feedback if something isn't working. Engage them by asking what you could do better, what input and development they need, and set the tone for further meetings.
Employee performance review meetings are vital to improving work relationships, enhancing engagement and performance, and potentially reducing turnover. In an ideal workplace, they should be continuous rather than just annual. This allows the ongoing employee and manager communication and ensures that performance is measured and discussed at the time rather than twelve months on.
Sorwe offers you all the solutions your company needs to design an effective digital employee experience. You can contact us to our 360-degree feedback solutions and discuss what’s right for your business.