How to Do a Performance Review

You may have seen The Office, a TV show about people working for a small-town paper company. The manager, Michael Scott, is the king of goofing off. When performance review time comes around, he talks about his personal life to each employee rather than their performance. Michael Scott does not take performance reviews seriously … do you?

How often do you talk to your employees about their job performances? Do you put it off all year? When you think about performance reviews, you might get nervous about losing valuable time, and employees may feel like they’re being called into the principal’s office. However, delivering an effective performance review, or evaluation, can be helpful to your small business. Employees want to know where they stand as well as feel appreciated.

Reviews are most beneficial when done twice a year. But, you can’t forget to tell employees how they’re doing throughout the year as well. Help your employees understand what they can improve, and compliment their strengths. Productivity begins with performance, so make sure your employees are at the top of their game.

Whether you are anticipating your first employee review or you’ve clocked hundreds over the years, here are some tips to help you before, during, and after you give an employee evaluation.

How to do a performance review: preparing

1. Set clear duties and responsibilities

Always be clear about what you expect from your employees or you may end up with unfinished work. Offer help when employees have questions.

2. Create a standard evaluation form

Use the same evaluation form for every employee performance review. Evaluation forms measure aspects like attendance, communications, and overall performance. Patriot Software’s employee performance evaluation covers work habits, job skills, and performance/results. Seeing how happy your employees are with their jobs is also important in the evaluation.

3. Give frequent feedback

Have a mid-year evaluation and occasional meetings to help your employees gauge their work. Waiting until the end of the year to address a problem can be harmful to your business and cause you unnecessary frustration.

4. Set up the evaluation

Schedule the evaluation in advance (typically two weeks) so your employees aren’t blindsided. Give your employees a few times to choose from, and have them pick a time that doesn’t conflict with other responsibilities.

5. Self-evaluation

Let your employees evaluate themselves. Your employees will be able to voice concerns and tell you how happy they are with their jobs.

How to do a performance review: conducting

1. Find a comfortable location

Make sure that both you and your employee are at ease during the evaluation process. Have your performance review in a private place.

2. Emphasize the positives

Do not fixate on errors. Instead, use your employee’s strengths to come up with ways they can improve the area(s) that are lacking. Adding a positive approach will help prevent the employee from getting defensive.

3. Don’t be vague

Be direct and honest in what you say. Use your records to be specific. For example, saying, “Sometimes you are late completing tasks” makes less of a connection with an employee than saying, “Joe really needed his pizzas delivered at 1:00 p.m. last week, but you didn’t get there until 1:30 p.m.”

4. Discuss the employee’s long-term career goals

What does your employee want to do in the long run? If their professional goals are far off from their current position, they might not do their best work. Listen to what your employee needs to improve their performance.

5. Do not talk about salary without a plan

Make sure you are prepared if you are going to discuss salary with performance. You don’t want to offer an employee a raise you cannot afford. If an employee brings up salary and you are not ready, offer another time to discuss.

How to do a performance review: following-up

1. Establish goals

Goals will help employees increase productivity in the workplace. For example, if an employee had low sales this year, challenge them to increase their sales by 4% next year. Tell your employees what they need to do to improve their performances and how to do it by setting up a performance improvement plan (PIP).

2. Let your employees review you

Let your employees tell you what they think about your performance and offer suggestions. Allow them to submit their reviews of you throughout the year.

3. Keep your evaluations on file

The performance reviews should be kept in your employees’ files. You can store reviews online or keep paper files. Make sure to keep the evaluations for seven years past an employee’s termination. Files are great references for measuring growth, offering raises or promotions, and protecting you in case a terminated employee intends to sue for misconduct.

Patriot’s online HR software can help organize and secure employee records so you never lose them.

4. Schedule a follow-up meeting

Help your employees stay on the right track to achieving goals through follow-up meetings. Since these are not formal reviews, they can be laid-back. Ask your employees if they have questions or are coming across problems that are preventing them from reaching their goals.

5. Provide positive feedback

When your employees improve on something you discussed in the review, let them know you noticed. Employees want to know that your business values them.

Don’t stress when performance reviews come around. Practicing proper protocol before, during, and after the employee review will allow you to successfully do a performance evaluation. Evaluations can pave the way for a productive working environment. So relax, and encourage constant communication in your small business.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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