A 5-min guide to performance reviews

What do employee engagement, turnover rates, and open company culture have in common? An effective performance management system.
A 5-min guide to performance reviews
Jono Harris

We all know the traditional Performance Review as being tedious and something that neither management nor employees look forward to. It’s a time when employees are more stressed than usual, because they don’t know what type of feedback they’ll receive and the managers don’t have the time to conduct thorough, accurate and fair feedback assessments. Some personal biases can also be evident and of course, good old memory can let us all down when trying to recall incidents that happened months ago 🤔

But reviews don’t have to be stressful at all. If the process is ongoing and runs seamlessly in the background, the collection of the feedback becomes easier, which means preparation for end-of-year performance reviews becomes much more efficient and the conversations will be constructive and relevant, which means the confirmation becomes solid.

Ken Blanchard said it best, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”, so let’s get our employees eating right.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” — Ken Blanchard

Below you’ll find an easy guide on how to make your Performance review process simpler, better and faster.

1) Plan, plan and plan some more

As a manager, it’s tempting to “freestyle” the performance review and just tell your employees whatever feedback comes to your mind during the meeting, but we both know that’s not the way to go. You need to think of the performance review as a process that is continuous and culminates in that once-a-quarter or once-a-year meeting.

Ample planning ahead of time enables you to give more detailed and personalised feedback and, when the performance review comes around, there will be no surprises for you or your employees — and that’s exactly what you should be aiming for.

2) Set goals and expectations

At the start of the year, share a Goal setting pulse with your team and then have a 1-on-1 sit down with each to discuss and agree on their personal performance goals. This not only makes sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them throughout the year, but it also gives both of you a clear map to follow each time you meet regularly to discuss performance over the coming months.

Remember that while goals should be specific to each person’s role, they should also be aligned with the organisational goals so that employees can see and understand how their performance affects the performance of their team and the organisation as a whole.

3) Hold touch-base meetings

You should be tracking your employees’ goals and gathering feedback from their co-workers throughout the year. Whether you choose to have monthly or quarterly check-ins, pre-schedule these meetings at the beginning of the year so that they always enjoy top priority status in your calendar.

Ahead of every meeting, prepare a short agenda to follow. It should include a quick review of the employee’s annual goals and expectations (from your perspective, their perspective and their co-workers perspective) as well as an update on any current projects plus any questions or new assignments you have.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” — Winston Churchill

Addressing issues with employees is sometimes tough for managers but one helpful tip is to frame comments in terms of behaviours someone should start, stop, and continue.

4) Prepare

Set a recurring Pulse feedback survey that is sent out every quarter before the touch base meeting. These pulses should ask for feedback from the employee themselves as well as co-workers. Assign the pulse to you, as their manager, as well. This way you can collate all the data at the same time.

“There is no failure. Only feedback.” — Robert Allen

5) Set specific goals out of the review

Make sure the meeting produces tangible results. You and the employee should agree upon specific actions to be taken by each of you after touch base meeting to ensure that they are on track to meet their goals.

The performance review, when done well, can help align leader and employee, connect your team and organisational goals and be a catalyst for employee growth. A well-planned performance review ensures that the employee and the manager will give and receive feedback effectively.

Get started with your ongoing Pulse performance reviews today >