Performance reviews are either a necessary evil or great opportunity, depending on how you approach them. It’s an important but anxiety-ridden time for many an employee and manager, since so much tends to come down to one document or one face to face review. Here are a few of our suggestions to make the process more productive.
Keep track of performance
This applies to managers and employees. It’s often difficult to reflect back on 12 months of work and quickly pull out the highlights and challenges someone faced over the course of the year. That is, unless you’ve been keeping track with those accomplishments and outcomes on a consistent basis. Make it a point to sit down, perhaps monthly, and jot down notes on your own performance or that of an employee so you can easily reference it down the line. This will definitely make filling in that blank performance review document easier, especially if you are manager with several direct reports.
Hold quarterly check-ins
As the HR page on About.com says, an “employee should never hear about positive performance or performance in need of improvement for the first time” at the formal annual review. Basically, consider the formal annual performance review as a time for reinforcement of conversations had over the course of the year, and a time to focus on planning and development. A great way to lower the chance for surprises—for employee or manager—is to schedule quarterly sit downs to not just focus on current projects but serve as “micro” reviews to make sure performance is on track and help course-correct if necessary.
As Mark Twain said, “It usually takes me two or three days to prepare an impromptu speech.” There is rarely a situation at work when being prepared isn’t preferable to winging it. As a manager, you want to convey that you care about your employee and keep them motivated and passionate about continuing their work. For an employee, you need to make sure to highlight your accomplishments and share your thoughts about where you want to grow your career. This all takes preparation.
It really boils down to having a framework in place throughout the year to make sure you are confident heading into a review. By preparing and keeping in touch throughout the year, it’s possible to turn the tables on the much-feared annual review and make it a positive experience.