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How to conduct a performance review

Conducting performance reviews can sometimes feel like a daunting task for managers. However, with proper preparation and a growth-oriented mindset, these reviews can not only be productive but also empowering for your team members. A well-executed performance review can engage and energise both you and your team, fostering motivation to achieve new objectives and focus on career progression goals. 

Performance reviews provide an opportunity to assess and enhance employee performance in a structured manner. They serve as a valuable platform to: 

  • Reignite motivation that may have waned over time 

  • Revitalise projects that may have been put on hold 

  • Recognise and reward productive employees, offering opportunities for growth 

  • Address any perceived challenges or issues 

  • Establish objectives for the future 

  • Assess training needs 

  • Gain insights into group dynamics within the team 

  • Understand individual career goals and aspirations 

Managers can leverage these discussions to provide constructive feedback, set clear goals, and support professional development aligned with both organisational objectives and individual aspirations. This holistic approach fosters a collaborative environment where employees feel valued and empowered to contribute effectively to their team and the organisation. 

Benefits for your staff 

Many employees eagerly anticipate their performance reviews as an opportunity for constructive feedback and recognition. They value the chance to receive guidance on how to enhance their performance and contribute more effectively to the team. 

During this meeting, employees can: 

  • Receive recognition and reward for their contributions (while remembering that appraisals typically aren't tied to salary discussions) 

  • Set objectives aligned with their career progression 

  • Identify areas for improvement and opportunities for support 

  • Address any grievances or concerns 

  • Seek reassurance and appreciation for their efforts 

Download our free employee performance review template

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Before the review 

Preparation before the review is crucial to ensuring that performance evaluations are productive and beneficial for both managers and employees. To conduct effective performance reviews, managers should focus on several key steps: 

  • Clearly communicate performance standards and expectations to their team members, including ethical standards. 

  • Allocate sufficient time for the review to ensure a meaningful discussion where both achievements and areas for improvement can be addressed. 

  • Pay attention to employees' behaviors well in advance of the review date to provide constructive feedback based on observed performance. 

  • Assess the root causes of any performance issues, considering factors such as motivation, ability, or external challenges. 

  • Recognise and reward high performers, while also identifying strategies to retain their valuable contributions and learn from their exemplary behaviors. 

Employee performance review preparation  

Employee performance review preparation is a pivotal step in ensuring a constructive and insightful appraisal session. To maximise the impact of the performance review, managers should undertake the following preparations: 

  • Review past performance information and take detailed notes to facilitate a comprehensive evaluation. 

  • Consider the employee's job description and previous objectives as benchmarks for assessing current performance. 

  • Evaluate recent performance against established expectations, identifying both exemplary achievements and areas where improvement is needed. 

  • Encourage employees to complete a self-appraisal form, allowing them to articulate their accomplishments, areas for growth, strengths, weaknesses, and any additional topics they wish to address during the meeting. 

    Looking for an appraisal form? Download our employee performance review template here to help  facilitate productive review conversations.

Tips to enhance the appraisal process 

To elevate the effectiveness and impact of performance reviews, these strategies can help to streamline the evaluation process and foster meaningful discussions between managers and employees: 

  • Ensure employees complete the appraisal form thoroughly and submit it before the scheduled meeting, enabling managers to prepare adequately and focus on actionable feedback. 

  • Review previous appraisal notes alongside an assessment of the employee's performance since the last review, providing continuity and context for developmental discussions. 

  • Evaluate completed work and ongoing projects to pinpoint areas for improvement and identify developmental opportunities that align with both individual growth and organisational objectives. 

  • Align future objectives with departmental and organisational goals, emphasising how employees' contributions can drive collective success and growth. 

During the performance review meeting 

Begin the meeting by emphasising that it will be a two-way conversation, with feedback from both parties contributing to its success. Outline the expectations for the meeting and its focus on the employee's career progression. 
 
The discussion should cover: 

  • Reviewing objectives set in previous appraisals and acknowledging achievements. 

  • Identifying areas where objectives were not met and exploring reasons for this. 

  • Assessing the employee's skills development since the last review. 

  • Discussing the employee's performance and contribution to team goals. 

  • Evaluating the employee's job satisfaction and alignment with their personal purpose. 

  • Assessing the employee's skills and identifying any areas for upskilling rather than relying solely on anecdotal feedback. 

Delivering constructive feedback 

When addressing areas for improvement, it is crucial to approach the discussion with sensitivity and a collaborative mindset focused on finding solutions together. Start by acknowledging the employee's efforts and strengths before discussing areas that need enhancement. Encourage the employee to share their perspective on the challenges they face and invite them to propose solutions.  

This collaborative approach not only empowers the employee but also ensures their buy-in to the improvement plan. By involving them in setting specific, achievable goals for improvement, you foster a sense of ownership and commitment to their professional development.  

Handling confrontation during performance reviews 

During performance reviews, it's important to anticipate and be prepared to handle potential confrontations, especially when discussing sensitive issues. Foster an environment of open communication where the employee feels comfortable expressing concerns or disagreements. Listen actively and empathetically to their perspective, aiming to understand the root cause of any conflicts or issues.  

When addressing serious matters like allegations of harassment or discrimination, handle them with utmost sensitivity, following established HR protocols and ensuring fairness and confidentiality throughout the process. Promptly addressing such issues demonstrates commitment to a respectful and supportive work environment. 

Offering takeaway objectives  

A critical outcome of performance reviews is setting clear objectives for the employee to strive towards in the upcoming review period. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Align these goals with both organisational objectives and the employee's career growth aspirations to ensure they contribute meaningfully to overall success.  

Discuss these objectives collaboratively with the employee, ensuring they understand the expectations and have the necessary resources and support to achieve them. Regularly revisit these objectives throughout the review period to provide guidance and feedback on progress. 

Post-review action 

After the review meeting, it is essential to follow through on any agreed-upon actions promptly. This may include arranging for additional training or professional development opportunities, addressing specific performance issues, or making adjustments to work processes or assignments. Document the outcomes of the review discussion, including the agreed-upon objectives and action steps, in writing. Share this documentation with the employee to ensure mutual understanding and accountability. Regularly revisit these action items in subsequent meetings to track progress, provide support as needed, and celebrate achievements. 

By conducting thorough and thoughtful performance reviews using these strategies, you not only enhance individual performance but also contribute to overall team effectiveness and cultivate a positive work environment. Investing in constructive feedback, proactive conflict resolution, clear goal setting, and follow-up actions demonstrates your commitment to supporting employee growth and organisational success. 
 
Download our performance review appraisal form template now to streamline your review process and facilitate effective performance discussions that drive meaningful outcomes for both employees and the organisation.

 

 

FAQs

  • How often should performance reviews be conducted?
    Performance reviews should typically be conducted on an annual basis, although some companies may choose to have more frequent reviews, such as quarterly or bi-annually. 
  • What if an employee disagrees with their performance review?
    If an employee disagrees with their performance review, they should have the opportunity to discuss their concerns and provide additional input. It's important to have an open and constructive dialogue to address any discrepancies or misunderstandings.
  • Can performance reviews impact salary increases?

    While performance reviews offer valuable feedback and recognition, they generally do not directly influence salary discussions. Salary increases typically result from separate processes like annual reviews or merit-based evaluations.

    However, insights gained from a performance review can influence the decision-making process regarding salary adjustments. If you're preparing for upcoming salary reviews, our Salary Survey tool can assist you in benchmarking your team's salaries, ensuring informed decisions are made.

  • How can managers provide effective feedback during a performance review?

    Managers should ensure that feedback is constructive, clear, and tailored to the individual employee's strengths and areas for improvement. This involves providing specific examples of performance and outcomes rather than vague generalisations. Effective feedback may include:

    • - Discussing the employee's career goals and potential development opportunities within the organisation.

    • - Setting specific targets for the upcoming year and outlining how performance will be measured.

    • - Identifying training needs to support the employee's objectives. 

    • - Allowing the employee to raise any additional issues or concerns.

    Throughout the review process, emphasising specific examples of performance and outcomes helps make the feedback more tangible and actionable. Additionally, active listening to the employee's perspective and acknowledgment of their achievements and areas for improvement fosters a constructive dialogue that encourages growth and development.

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