Performance reviews are a mainstay in employee management and growth, so it pays to learn how to conduct them effectively. Here are four of the biggest mistakes employers make when conducting performance reviews and how to address them:
- Giving only one person’s perspective. When a review comes from only one person – such as the employee’s immediate supervisor – it’s much easier for the employee to write off any feedback they don’t want to hear as “just one person’s opinion.” Make specific criticisms and advice stick by adding an employee self-evaluation, peer evaluations or the opinions of additional management staff.
- Focusing on criticism and failures. Employees do need to know where they can improve. But when a performance review focuses solely on these points, staff may walk out feeling discouraged and hopeless. Don’t hide the negative, but do spend time talking about the positive as well. Mention where the employee is doing well and suggest ways to use these strengths to shore up weaknesses: “I notice you don’t always file paperwork on time, but you’re always punctual in answering emails and on project deadlines. How do you stay on task for those, and how can you use that to help ensure your paperwork gets done?”
- Evaluating an employee’s personality. Every “performance review” should live up to its name: it should focus on performance. Address behavior, but resist the urge to equate it with personality. For instance, if an employee has developed the habit of derailing meetings with storytelling tangents, focus on the behavior and its solution: “You often launch into stories that have little or nothing to do with the topic of the meeting. We’d like to keep meetings focused so everyone has plenty of time to work, so in the future, please comment only when it is directly related to the problem we’re discussing.” This approach is more productive than saying “You’re being a loudmouth,” and it gives specific criteria you can hold the employee to.
- Not looking at the big picture. Whether it’s focusing solely on the previous month or failing to account for missing staff members, family strife or medical problems, failing to look at the big picture may mean you miss opportunities for improvement or try to hold an employee accountable for something they don’t control. Instead, consider all the variables over the past year. When in doubt, ask the employee what they think contributed to a particular success or crisis.
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