In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the role of negative feedback, as well as proper preparation for the review. In this segment, we’ll discuss the meeting itself, and what you can do to make it a success for you and your employee alike.
Welcome to the fourth—and final—segment of our series on delivering performance appraisals.
First, give the employee plenty of notice, and remember that, with performance reviews, timing is really important. A Friday afternoon or right before a holiday may not be the best time to have an in-depth discussion about important issues. Nor do you want to be rushed by other meetings or commitments…so schedule at least an hour for the review, preferably on a day mid-week. This gives the employee ample time to respond and ask questions, as well as to come back and address any unresolved issues the next day after he or she has had the opportunity to reflect overnight.
Second, you may consider providing the employee a copy of your written review in advance. This way, your time together is more efficient and there are no in-meeting surprises. Even if you opt NOT to do this, it’s important to stress at the start of the meeting that it is meant to be a dialogue, where both parties are asked for input. Avoid simply reading the review to your employee…this won’t foster the dialogue you’re seeking. Instead, go through point by point, offering the employee a chance to respond and share his or her views on each topic.
Third, speak clearly and constructively. Throughout the meeting, be direct, factual and detail oriented. We covered this previously, but it’s worth noting again that you are evaluating performance, not personality…and all the language you use should reflect that fact. When describing a performance problem, focus on issues and results and use specific, job-function based examples of performance issues. Remember—performance reviews are not a time only for criticism—so be sure to also offer the employee specific examples of what he or she did well and how those actions supported the company.
Next, leave time to plan. Performance review meetings are not just for looking back at the past…instead, remember that reviews also provide an opportunity to plan and set goals for the year ahead together with your employee. Ask for the employee’s input and what he or she thinks would be beneficial in terms of training and support. Commit to getting back to your employee in a timely fashion and make sure you follow up. Finally, remember to carefully document the review, and to familiarize yourself with both state and federal employment and anti-discrimination laws in advance.
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