Leaders have numerous responsibilities to fulfill every year, one of which is managing their team effectively and finding ways to push them to do their best and keep achieving more. This helps the company’s bottom line, of course, but also helps workers feel more engaged and committed to the firm since they continue to grow and learn.
You don’t want to be destructive in your feedback or nitpick too much, but providing helpful suggestions and working with staff members to set goals for the future can have many positive impacts. In particular, well-thought-out and communicated annual performance reviews are a great way to see where workers are up to. Here are some tips for making these conversations as productive as possible.
If you want to get the most possible out of performance reviews, it’s essential to spend time preparing for them. If you don’t, you will miss out on asking the right questions or bringing up necessary issues or positives, and you’ll likely also upset employees. People can tell if you’re not prepared and don’t understand what they do within the company, how long they’ve worked there, goals or problems discussed in their last review, and so on.
Apart from familiarizing yourself with the person you’re chatting with and their background in the firm, you also want to obtain statistics or customer or colleague feedback, etc., to help you demonstrate any concerns you have and want to bring up during the performance review. Using specific examples during these chats reduces the likelihood of employees being confused or feeling personally attacked.
For example, if you’ve noticed a salesperson hasn’t been getting potential leads or current customers over the line lately, you can likely show numbers that indicate their prior sales figures and compare these against their current ones. You might also demonstrate figures of their sales colleagues who are performing well. From there, you can discuss ways to move forward and create processes to support them to achieve more.
Listen As Well as Talk
Something else to remember during performance reviews is that you’re not only there to talk. While you’ll be leading the conversation and no doubt have plenty to say, also leave spaces for the person you’re conversing with to talk. They need to have their save and respond to the worries you bring up or let you know what their goals and desires are within the company.
If you spend the whole time talking, you might get your point across (though the other person will likely switch off after a while), but you won’t obtain any helpful insights. Employees might be able to share why their performance has been lacking, if it has, or ways they could be supported to increase their productivity and other results.
They might have concerns about the company culture, other workers not pulling their weight, or have noticed common questions or worries customers bring up that aren’t adequately addressed by management. The more you listen, the more you can learn and see other helpful perspectives. For instance, you might come out of a meeting realizing employee morale is low, affecting results. You can then investigate ways to improve motivation and inspire your team, perhaps by outsourcing recognition and rewards programs to HR specialists such as Workhuman.
Be open to feedback from performance reviews, as you never know what your staff members might share with you that makes a big difference to how you do things moving forward.
Ensure Your Comments and Requests are Specific and Actionable
Many leaders make the mistake in performance reviews of speaking in generalizations too much and not providing specific, measurable, and actionable feedback. If you want your employees to change how they operate in the workplace or the level of results they get, you must provide guidance they can do something with.
Back up your words with some ideas of actionable steps for people to follow. You won’t get far if you simply tell employees you’re unhappy with their performance but don’t provide any clear understanding of what you require them to do in the future. For instance, if you have an underperforming salesperson, you could find out the average number of cold calls or emails they complete weekly and then ask them to increase this by a certain number or percentage.
Other things to consider when it comes to performance reviews are having them often enough and being sure to follow up in a few weeks or months after conversations to see what changes and improvements have occurred.
If you haven’t spent much time conducting employee evaluations in the past, you may feel a little intimidated by the idea of doing them now. However, provided you plan things as well as possible, keep an open mind, and refrain from losing your cool during the chats, you should find they’re productive and well worth your time and effort.