Everyone, regardless of who you are or what your job is, loves to know that they’re doing a great job. Depending on how you phrase it, most people also want to know when they’re doing a bad one too.
Without the use of positive feedback sessions - whether in a group or one-on-one - many of us would find ourselves clueless as to how well - or poorly - we are performing in work. All too often, this is the form that performance reviews take.
Chart representing the usefulness of performance reviews Image Source
For something as crucial as feedback, you need to be sure you’re getting it right. In this article, we’ll take a look at what feedback is and why it’s important to receive feedback, why it is useful, and share some tips on how to give great performance review feedback in the future.
First, let’s take a look, in a bit more detail, as to what the purpose of feedback is. You can talk - as we will - about improving something all you like. Although, without the context of what it is you’re improving, the need to do so can seem useless.
As well as acting as a barometer against which people can judge their general contribution, performance reviews are a chance for management to understand the machinations of their organization.
It’s a process that not only allows employees to understand their own standing or their team’s standing but also shows senior employees where the best and worst members of their outfit are. This, along with other data, can allow them to rethink how they operate in the hope of optimizing their output more effectively.
Now that we’ve understood what the purpose of performance review feedback is, let’s take a look at how you can make it the most effective version of itself.
The first tip ties into what we’ve previously covered. Failure to understand the reason behind doing something means that when it comes to doing it, your results will be sub-optimal. Without using a KPI retail salespeople would find the purpose of their job considerably more abstract than they do. The same goes for performance reviews.
Going into a performance review session understanding the crucial nature it holds for employees and managers alike is vital if you’re going to justify doing it at all.
An appreciation for how a good performance review benefits all involved, allows you to structure, plan, and deliver reviews that provide positive change to the company’s way of working.
A great way to ensure that you get everything necessary out of a performance review is to have an agenda set before it comes time to carry out the review. Distributing this through email or printouts to all involved, ahead of time, allows everyone to arrive, with employees engaged, ready to discuss the items on the agenda as compltely as possible.
This not only reduces the issue of wasted time but allows people to feel more comfortable being active participants. If they’re looking out for something they don’t expect, they’ll never give you the most accurate depiction of their perspective. Without that, a performance review is rendered obsolete.
One of the main reasons why even meetings with agendas can prove unsuccessful is that they weren’t treated as important by those organizing it. Carrying out performance reviews on the fly means that people are less likely to take them seriously or be prepared for them. And, as such, the results they garner are limited.
Setting aside a chunk of time for the performance review to take place, and sending a meeting request email to confirm it, infers a gravitas and importance to it. This ensures that it is treated seriously and with a desire from all parties for it to be a success, and not something that’s being ticked off the list of things to do.
Even if you’re holding these meetings regularly, issues can arise in between one meeting and the next. Keeping up to date on an employee’s performance, and logging it through a process improvement tracker excel template, allows their performance review to feel like less of a chore to prepare for.
It also gives the person organizing the review the chance to introduce any mitigating factors that can explain any uptick or drop-off in performance. Leaving this to the review itself can lead to unproductive and unhelpful performance reviews for all involved.
One of the most important things to remember whilst conducting a performance review is that it is mostly for the person being reviewed. In short, the point of holding the meeting, whether virtual or face to face, is to check in and determine areas for improvement. You could always do this with an employee survey, but the purpose of a performance review is its inherent interactivity.
By actively listening to what the employee feels is saying, you make a concerted effort to limit your comments or questions. It also means that anything you pick up on from them can be challenged or discussed there and then, as opposed to being forgotten about, which can ultimately help an employee improve their performance.
It may be assumed that this point refers to performance reviews that are dealing with negative information. And whilst that may be the moment in which you are generally more careful with the language that you use, it doesn’t mean that this is the only occasion you should take time to consider it.
Language is so important. Without it, our ability to communicate would be primal. And so, when it comes to taking the lead on the performance review process, being careful not to say something that feels leading or that puts unnecessary stress on the employee is best avoided.
Training yourself to look at situations in the most positive light is a good way of ensuring growth and development happen. If you take a pessimistic view of the world, chances are this will bleed through into your performance review, causing employees to be more lacking in confidence than they otherwise ought to be.
When considering the content of your employee review, it’s important to accumulate all the data you have available. If you’ve discussed their background and their ambitions with you, be sure to build that into the context of your review.
If, for example, you work at Amazon and someone was looking at becoming a manager at one of your fulfillment centers eventually, you can incorporate that into the performance review. If how they’re performing doesn’t meet the required standard for management, this can be used as something to work on. As well as contextualizing the whole process, it can afford people a motivation they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Nobody is completely understood merely by seeing their statistics. The outputs or the performance that we drive through work is rarely a complete representation of our character or our ability.
So, whilst your impression of a person and the contributions they make to the overall success of the company are important, there are other factors to consider. You could ask around, either in person or by using a call that takes place on your hosted PBX phone system. Get in touch with other managers who’ve had experience with this employee and ask for their opinion.
Whilst we covered the idea of the future in point seven, we mustn’t just treat the future as an abstract dimension. Creating some achievable, reasonable goals to move forward with as part of the annual review of your performance means it becomes more than just a summary of the work someone has been doing. Understanding the phases of the employee journey makes it easier to introduce this across a period of performance reviews.
It can either provide affirmation of what they’re already doing or suggest ways in which they can change to achieve better results. Either way, it allows the person to set goals in a manner that would, otherwise, be a journey without a roadmap.
It’s important to not isolate the conversation you have with an employee to their performance evaluation alone. We mentioned earlier that you should keep track of how your workers perform between performance reviews and whilst you’re doing this, don’t be afraid to have a dialogue with them which you can direct through a performance management software.
Doing this not only makes them more comfortable discussing work with you, but it allows them to rectify any issues in a manner that can be discussed at the performance review. Part of our performance appraisal is, of course, how we learn from our mistakes.
In this article, we’ve taken a look at what purpose performance reviews fulfill and covered some ways in which you can improve yours. We’ve discussed how performance reviews function and shared tips for you to put into practice going forward.
It isn’t an easy adjustment to make, especially if you already have an established way of doing things. Still, it could prove to be a great way of getting the most out of the people who work for you.
Author Bio: Richard Conn is the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8x8, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Call Center platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments.