How to make your performance reviews run smoothly

As soon as you take on your first employee, you create a new responsibility for yourself as a business owner: the need to carry out performance reviews!

There’s a clear intention behind the performance review process, and that’s to give you (the owner or manager) an evaluation tool to help review your staff, improve efficiency and help the business achieve its true potential.

But, in reality, performance reviews can actually end up making you less efficient. They can be time-consuming, frustrating and often don’t achieve their underlying aim of helping you and your team improve the business.

So, as a manager, what can you do to improve the experience and effectiveness of your performance reviews?

Schedule more frequent and much shorter reviews

Making your employees sit through a dull 2-hour performance review every quarter isn’t the best use of yours, or their, time.

In reality, your employee’s performance is an ongoing process that’s occurring on a daily basis – and should be reviewed and analysed on a similarly regular basis. Talk to your team throughout the working week, find out how they’re doing, and where they have any concerns.

Keep short notes in your HR system and you’ll build up a substantial list of points on each employee – notes that will give you plenty of talking points for your more formal review conversations.

Don’t be confrontational; be conversational

Confrontation is definitely not the aim of your performance review.

This review time isn’t a forum for airing grievances or apportioning blame for any specific errors. Instead, it’s a time to have an open informal chat about how you and your employee feel they’re progressing.

Remember, you don’t want to destroy confidence or undermine engagement. So make sure you have a combination of positive feedback and constructive criticism to discuss with each team member.

The trick is to underline how the positive and critical elements are interrelated, and to frame them as part of the wider, holistic business process. This helps your employee to see what they’re adding to the business, and where they need to do better, without damaging their motivational levels and making any criticism too personal in its focus.

In short, be constructive and help your team to improve themselves.

Have an agenda for your review conversations

When you do sit down for a review, make sure you’ve got a clear agenda for what needs to be achieved. It’s no use sitting down for a chat and having a meandering conversation without any defined end goal.

Here’s are some key elements to include to make your reviews effective:

  • Talk about objectives and goals, both short and long term.
  • Assess how well your employees are progressing toward their objectives.
  • Give advice and guidance if an employee needs to improve in any areas.
  • Use a consistent rating system in all reviews (and compare them over time).
  • Give your employees their own chance to talk, while you listen.

Steve Moss is a certified Gazelles coach, and there are many resources available to you as part of this membership which will help you with the People area of your business.  Read more about these resources

Put down the HR handbook!

You may have done your research and read up on the latest HR processes, but don’t get too smart. Make a real effort to not regurgitate the HR clichés and refrain from sounding like you swallowed the book whole. Keep it conversational and act normally – you’ll get far more from it.

Make sure the review is a productive process too. You asked for the review, so it’s your job to ensure it’s a worthwhile experience, both for you and the employee. Stay consistent, keep it simple and aim for that personal touch.

Give your review a clear purpose and outcome

It’s important that your review sessions have a very transparent end goal. Before starting any review, makes sure that your employee understands why it’s happening and is clear about the purpose of the conversation.

Underline the benefits and end goals you’re aiming to achieve and show them how this is a constructive exercise, which will benefit their long-term career prospects.

Talk to us about your performance review process

At Holden Moss, we’ve seen how important it is to build a motivated, skilful team of people to help you achieve your long-term business goals.

We’ve worked with a wide cross-section of fast-growth businesses to help them define their employee needs, improve their day-to-day management and put clear, effective performance review processes in place.

Best of all, we use the Gazelles resources to do it – so you are never starting from scratch. These are tried and tested People resources that will help you get the most from your people, and from your performance reviews.

If you’d like some assistance with your employee performance reviews, get in touch with your local office to arrange a chat with us.

Written by

Steve Moss, CPA is a partner at Holden Moss CPAs and loves helping businesses and their owners grow to be the very best they can be. Our other offices include Raleigh, Oxford and Warrenton. We are a little different at Holden Moss CPAs. While we still provide traditional tax and accounting services, years ago we realized many clients wanted help in running their businesses and were hungry for ideas, solutions, strategy, and execution. In response, we expanded our skill set and joined Ran One, a global network of business consulting firms. Our membership with Ran One gives us access to proprietary resources and analytical software to help our clients grow, become more profitable and valuable, and have the lifestyle they desire. Now, blended into the fabric of our normal tax and accounting needs, we are focused on our clients’ businesses in a very different way. While our approach is not right for everyone, for those whom it is, incredible results may be obtained. Whether you have a new, or established, business, or for those in transition of selling or retiring, or for those who simply need to develop an exit strategy or succession plan, our unique approach to client service may be the edge you need.

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