Allevity Blog

Tips for Making Performance Reviews Slightly Less Painful

Apr 20, 2015

Ah, performance reviews. The time of year most supervisors loathe. Typically because it involves a lot of paperwork mucking up your other daily tasks, and because… no one likes to be the bearer of bad news.

But performance reviews don’t have to be that awful. Sure, they are probably never going to be your favorite part of the job, but there are definitely ways you can make them less painful. 

Create an Environment of Ongoing Discussion

First of all, an annual performance review should never be the first time an employee is hearing about anything. Nor should it be the first time you are documenting wins or losses. A good manager understands that people thrive off feedback, and provides that feedback on a regular basis. Make a habit of always talking to your employees about what they are doing well and where they could improve, and nothing about the performance review will come as a surprise to them. Bonus: if you document those discussions as you go, you can save yourself a lot of time when performance review season rolls around. 

Set the Date

Employees tend to have a lot of anxiety surrounding performance reviews, even when they are confident in their work and your view of that work. So springing a performance review on them out of the blue really isn’t the best way to help them feel prepared or at ease with your discussion. Instead, give them fair warning – so that they can start thinking about their previous year’s goals and how they have worked to meet those goals. Set a meeting date at least 3 days in advance, and then strive to meet that date to the best of your ability. Because a canceled performance review is almost worse than a last minute performance review. 

Make it a Conversation

Remember when you were a kid, called to the principal’s office for the first time? You likely sat there, miserable and unsure of what was to come, waiting for this authority figure to finish the lecture and get to addressing your fate. Don’t do that to your employees. Instead, take a collaborative approach to the performance review. Ask questions about how they think they have done, and volley the discussion back and forth as you revisit some of the accomplishments and setbacks from the year. 

Look at the Big Picture

We are all a little guilty of allowing recent events to cloud previous actions, both for the good and the bad. What happened last week is simply more on our mind than what took place 6 months ago. But focusing only on the recent actions of an employee can lead to an inaccurate assessment, and everyone deserves a fair evaluation. Instead, you should be analyzing those notes you have been taking throughout the year, reviewing the full picture with your employees; not just the recent highlights and downfalls. 

Create Some Goals

The pinnacle of every performance review should be goal setting for the year to come. Employees simply perform better when they know what is expected of them, so work with your staff to create reasonable goals that they feel excited about reaching for. This will give you a jumping off point for future reviews, as well as set expectations for your employees moving forward. 

When everything is said and done, treat yourself to a happy hour. Sure, no supervisor looks forward to performance review season. But done right, it can set you up for a successful year ahead. And that is certainly something worth celebrating!

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