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How to Conduct a Stress-Free Performance Review

Published September 26, 2016 (last updated November 17, 2020) -

The mere mention of a performance appraisal is enough to make many employers shudder. But why is this otherwise well-intended exercise looked down upon?

Performance reviews can be nerve racking for your employees as they cover every aspect of their daily duties. How they interact with colleagues and/or customers, whether they are meeting their goals, objectives and satisfying the vision of your company.

It is a complex process that involves many emotions, which is why it can go terribly wrong if not conducted correctly. Thankfully, there are many ways to emphasise the positive aspects of a performance review.

Communication is Key

Whether you are a small business taking an informal approach, or a large company with a clear-cut, formal approach to performance review, it is important to communicate what is expected of your employees early on, preferably during the induction process.

By telling your employees what goals and objectives need to be met, they have a reference point for judging their own work. This way, if their overall performance starts to dwindle, they will not be surprised if they receive a less-than-stellar review from their manager.

Address Problems Early

Do not wait six or 12 months to tell your employee their performance is lacking. Regularly observe your staff and if you notice any deficiencies, give constructive advice so they can perform their role better. If needed, you can also offer extra training to improve their skills.

Some employees may not take criticism lightly, however, most will appreciate the fact you addressed the issue sooner rather than later. Plus, if they learn a new skill in the process you will have made a positive impact on their development.

The Official Appraisal

While regularly observing your employees is important, a one-on-one meeting is the best way for both individuals to share their thoughts in a mutual environment.

A successful performance appraisal relies on you and your employee being equally prepared for the meeting. Below are a few crucial points to remember in preparation.

  • Give your employee a few weeks’ notice before the official meeting. This will help prepare them mentally and get them thinking about their current performance.
  • Ask them to prepare responses to potential questions. Some of the most common questions they can prepare for include: How would you rate your current performance? How do you feel about the company and your colleagues? Do you need any extra training or equipment to complete your tasks? Where do you think you could improve?
  • Likewise, prepare your own self-evaluation. Review your employee’s existing role and the tasks they perform. Take a look at performance indicators, such as testimonials from clients, sales figures, feedback from other colleagues, and any other relevant information.
  • Prepare them for the hard questions. If there are any issues you have with your employee, address them and give your employee time to reflect and evaluate their own performance.

What to Cover during the Meeting

Discuss whether they feel they are satisfying their current goals and objectives. And if not, ask your employee how they can perhaps improve their performance.

If you are having a follow-up meeting from a past review, discuss whether they have achieved their goals since then. This will give you a good indicator of their progress and the direction they are heading in the company.

Do not be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Issues regarding job satisfaction are not easy to bring up, however, you will never know answer unless you ask. Your employee may be hesitant to respond, so give them the reassurance that they can express themselves freely – without fear of being criticised or chastised.

Also, do not forget to focus on the more positive aspects of their job. Ask your employees what they like about their job and how it affects their day-to-day performance. Focusing on the positives may provide insight to help improve other areas of the business.

Document your Notes

Take notes throughout the meeting and share a summary of them with the employee. Be sure to keep these notes documented for later reference. This is useful for when the next appraisal comes around, so you can compare their performance and see how they have improved since then.

Want to learn more about workplace relations and conducting better a better performance review? Contact Employsure on 0800 568 012 or [email protected].

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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