Today, we’re talking about performance reviews…we’ll discuss how this important management tool benefits both you and your employees, and offer guidelines and tips to keep you on track throughout the process.
As any manager or HR professional will tell you, performance reviews require some work, but they’re a wise investment. A careful and thoughtful review can help guide your employees’ performance, compensation, and professional development all year long. Just as importantly, reviews help align employees’ individual goals with those of your business, and show your employees precisely how they are contributing—a powerful tool for keeping them motivated and productive. Finally, reviews can help to strengthen the relationship between a manager and an employee by promoting open communication in a caring and supportive work environment.
Performance reviews may also deliver concrete, measurable benefits. The performance review process allows you to re-confirm that employees have the skills and knowledge necessary to do their jobs. Reviews provide a dedicated forum for delivering feedback—both positive and constructive—and for addressing any performance-related issues. Reviews also offer employees the opportunity to raise their own issues and concerns, and express their points of view more freely than in the regular course of business. Finally, reviews can provide important documentation in the event a disciplinary action, termination, or other adverse personnel decision becomes necessary.
To begin, there are some basic steps to managing employees’ performance that should be incorporated into your performance review meetings. First, clearly reiterate the job expectations and responsibilities and document your meeting as to all issues and points covered. Be sure to obtain employee feedback, specifically as it relates to any expectation that the employee feels may be unrealistic.
Your employee should clearly understand which tasks are most important, the conduct and results required, and the performance standards against which he or she will be judged. You should also be sure to inform employees of the business goals related to the performance of their jobs, and specifically, how they will contribute to those goals. First, decide what goals you want to measure—for example, weekly or monthly sales targets or a number of clients to contact for customer service purposes. Then, create a system for measuring performance—for example, tracking the number of clients contacted for customer service follow-up. Also, commit to providing ongoing feedback regarding progress to employees and teams. Be sure to compare performance against job descriptions and goals.
A couple of final notes that relate to performance reviews and the law...be sure that your review process and systems for measuring performance treat employees equitably, and avoid any statements or actions that could be construed as discriminatory under federal and state law. If you have any questions regarding your performance review program and discrimination issues, contact an employment law attorney who knows your state laws.
Lastly, remember to be direct, factual, and detail oriented—a performance review can provide documentation for your company in case a disciplinary action or termination becomes necessary. If you provide a very positive review of an employee without detailing the problems, you now have documentation that does not support a decision to discipline or terminate...and if a lawsuit should later occur, it may be more difficult to defend your company’s actions.