7 tips for giving life-changing performance reviews

Here’s a thought: Good or bad, receiving a performance review, and feedback in general, is a gift. It can help an employee learn about themselves and improve both their work and personal lives. Therefore, if you’re a manager, talent specialist, or HR professional, you have the ability to positively impact someone’s life!

To be able to give performance reviews of this level requires preparation, a positive approach, and a solid grasp of the basics. Here are seven tips to make sure your performance reviews go above and beyond.

1. Go 360 first
Before you put the final touches on the review you’ve crafted, gather feedback from colleagues and peers that your direct report worked with in the past year. If possible, take into consideration their self-appraisal as well. This “360 degree” approach will help give you a more balanced view of your report’s performance, and help you capture anything you may have missed.

2. Better recognize
Post-recession, we’re all under a lot of strain and pressure. Perhaps a team member left the company, and your report had to pick up the slack while you hired a replacement, if you hired one at all. For all that extra effort – whether taking on new responsibilities, or putting in even more hours to get the project done, recognize it. A “thank you” goes a long way towards keeping employees motivated.

3. No surprises
If your report appears shocked at any feedback (good or bad) given, then you haven’t been doing your job as a manager (i.e. coach, mentor). You should have been regularly providing feedback throughout the past year.

4. Review the whole year
In our sometimes-scramble to get performance reviews done, we subconsciously base them on the past month or two leading up to them. This is unfair. Reviews and appraisals should be based on the entire timeframe established for a more accurate, holistic assessment of performance.

5. Listen and don’t interrupt
If an employee hears something they don’t like, reactions can be immediate and raw. It’s natural and it’s human. Give them time to vent, but don’t put too much weight into it. It’s better to schedule a follow up meeting to hear their thoughts, once they’ve had a chance to step away and think about it with a clear head.

6. Re-consider that one-off
Everyone makes mistakes. And if your employee is still there by review time, then obviously the mistake wasn’t enough to have them let go, so if there hasn’t been another incident since, or if you’ve noticed a marked improvement, then there’s no need to keep kicking that poor dead horse because you don’t have the time to go back and find more relevant pieces of feedback.

7. Have a frank discussion about your employee’s ambitions
Do you know what your employee wants to do next? Or where what they’d like to do more of? Take this time as an opportunity to hear from them and formulate a plan to help them develop the skills to get there.

For more on the history of performance reviews, check out this episode of Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast:


See also:
11 ways to give better performance reviews
How GE replaced a 40-year-old performance review system


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