Employee performance reviews don’t always get the respect they deserve. Although many employers carry out a thorough and diligent annual or semiannual process, others let performance reviews slip into a brief formality or even neglect to do them altogether.
If your organization’s commitment to this often-stressful ritual ever starts to falter, remind yourself and your supervisors of its importance.
Why they’re critical
There’s no doubt that performance reviews consume a substantial amount of time and resources. However, they’re mission critical for virtually every kind of employer for several reasons.
First, reviews are designed to provide feedback and counseling to employees about how the organization perceives their respective job performances. When staff members feel undervalued or ignored, they’re much more likely to leave.
Second, reviews enable supervisors and employees to set objectives for the upcoming year (or other performance period) and assist in determining any developmental needs. And third, reviews create a written record of performance and assist in allocating rewards and opportunities, as well as justify disciplinary actions or termination.
Conversely, giving annual reviews short shrift by only orally praising or reprimanding an employee leaves a big gap in that worker’s written history. The most secure companies, legally speaking, document employees’ shortcomings — and achievements — as they occur. They fully discuss performance at least once annually.
What not to do
To ensure your annual reviews are as productive as possible, make sure your supervisors are well-trained and aren’t committing any of the most common worst practices.
To begin with, they shouldn’t wing it. Establish clear standards and procedures for annual reviews. For example, supervisors should prepare for the meetings by filling out the same documentation for every employee.
Also, supervisors shouldn’t perform reviews in a vacuum. If a team member works regularly with other departments or outside vendors, the supervisor should contact individuals in those other areas for feedback before the review. You can learn some surprising things this way, both good and bad.
In addition, nothing in a performance review should come as a major surprise to an employee. Be sure supervisors are communicating with workers about their performance throughout the year. An employee should know in advance what will be discussed, how much time to set aside for the meeting and how to prepare for it.
Last, supervisors need to follow through and follow up on performance review discussions. Ensure they’re identifying and elucidating key objectives for each employee for the coming year (or period). It’s also a good idea to establish checkpoints in the months ahead to assess the employee’s progress toward the goals in question.
Refine your process
Employee performance reviews are easy to take for granted — particularly if your organization has been following the same process for years. Confirm that your leadership team holds them in high esteem. Beyond that, regularly review and refine the way you conduct reviews to improve the experience for everyone involved.