How to use them and get the most out of your people

Performance reviews can feel time-consuming for managers and anxiety-inducing for employees. But although they’re only mandatory in some employment contracts, they’re an effective business tool that shouldn’t be missed – even if not legally required. When done right, performance reviews can help in many facets of your business – they can drive engagement, ensure optimal staff performance and create a positive workplace culture.

Done poorly, on the other hand, performance reviews can be a big waste of everyone’s time – and a burden on the workplace.

So, how do you use performance reviews to benefit your staff and get the most out of them in return?

Performance reviews – the benefits

Performance reviews offer more than just feedback for your staff. Here’s why they should be top of your to-do list:

  • Pinpoint problem areas

Performance reviews are an excellent opportunity to recognise a well-done job or address issues in a neutral and calm setting. Your staff can also offer feedback or acknowledge any problems they’re having. Whatever’s brought to the table, you can take steps to achieve a positive outcome.

  • Build better teams

In getting clear on your staff’s performance, you’ll have a better picture of their training and development needs and be able to implement strategies to support them. This will create a stronger and more fulfilled team. Performance reviews also let you identify where you could better align an employee’s role with the direction of your business. Maybe they’re ready to take on more responsibility or expand their duties into other areas – if your business needs that, now’s the time to talk it through.

  • Improve employee motivation

Acknowledgement and constructive criticism are motivating. It shows employees what’s expected of them and how they contribute to the business, so they know their value and feel empowered to improve.

  • Create space for communication

Running a business is, well, busy, and there’s very little time for managers and employers to talk deeply day-to-day. Performance reviews give everyone time for the open communication you need to work together.

  • Identify candidates for promotion

A performance review is a perfect opportunity to plan for promotions – you can make decisions about wage increases and reward employees who bring value to your business. It also lets employees review their work performance and plan their career development.

A step-by-step guide

Performance reviews are a wonderful business tool, but how do you nail them and keep everyone happy?

  • Check-in regularly

Ensure you are meeting with everyone who reports to you to give regular feedback and check-in on how they’re feeling.  Doing an annual performance review is better than nothing, but a lot can change in a year. Scheduling bi-annually is the best way to stay current with your staff and ensure each review is relevant and productive.

  • Be prepared

Before the meeting, work out precisely what you want from it – and have the resources to back you up if needed, such as information from your regular check-in discussions. Bring career progression ideas, evidence of poor performance or examples of their good work, for example. Your employee will be grateful that you’ve put in the time and energy, and you’re more likely to get a positive result.

  • Keep an open mind

As much as performance reviews are for you to give feedback, they’re also a chance for your staff to have their say.  They should do just as much, if not more talking than you within the review meeting.  Whatever they bring up – negative or positive – keep an open mind and try to see their point of view without becoming dismissive or defensive. The goal is to hear them and work towards a solution that works for both of you.

  • Avoid negativity

Even if your employee needs to pull their socks up, try to go into the review feeling calm and level-headed and focus on the issues, not the person. Spiralling into negativity won’t bring any positive outcome – so avoid comparing them to other staff members or putting them down personally. Understand that all employees want to do a good job – it’s just a matter of overcoming the blocks. And remember, the issues you’re bringing to the table must be supported with evidence to avoid confusion or conflict. 

  • Get outcomes down on paper

Until something is on paper, you can assume it’s not a done deal. Any outcomes from your meeting need to be clearly documented, including future requirements, training that’s been agreed to, or an outline of who is responsible for what – to ensure progression before the next review is due.

Performance reviews – your tool for business success

When you’re busy, it’s easy to put off performance reviews. But when done right, they’re an effective tool to provide positive feedback, clarify and discuss areas of concern, reward staff for their performance and boost motivation and morale. If you’re unsure where to start or need the whole process created and prepared for you, call us – we’re always here to help.