Human Resources Articles

Conducting Performance Reviews

Written by Angela Ly for Gaebler Ventures

As an employer or manager, you will need to conduct staff performance reviews at some point. We discuss some ways you can do it to make them meaningful.

Performance reviews are dreaded by some managers, who say they feel uncomfortable speaking directly to their staff about less-than-satisfactory performance.

Others say that they simply can't get staff to discuss their views on their role candidly.

Such reviews are important, the crux of the takeaway being honest communication between manager and employee that benefits them working together in the future. Therefore, managers need to conduct performance reviews in a way that encourages employees to be open and frank on their own assessments, in order to be truly able to understand how the needs of employees fit into those of the organization or department.

Managers should ensure that performance review sheets are prepared well in advance of the planned performance reviews. Such review sheets are usually templates that are used every year, and consist of sections that cover several aspects of an employee's work life. Managers should review such sheets regularly to make sure that they stay relevant to the objectives of the appraisal. In many organizations, these sheets are electronically controlled.

After employees have been given adequate time to form their own assessments of their performance, a suitable time should be scheduled for the manager and employee to have a private discussion. Don't make this a long-drawn affair, at least not longer than necessary. Give your full attention to the employee, as this may be one of the few chances that he has to voice any grievances or hopes for the upcoming months.

It would be helpful if you were to kick start the discussion. You should have already gone through his completed self-assessment, and be ready for the appraisal before the meeting. You could perhaps start with his main job functions and tell the employee what you think of his performance in those areas. Ask him whether he agrees with your points and whether he has anything else to add. Take notes along the way.

Make employees feel comfortable talking to you. Take a more relaxed (but still professional) approach to the appraisal, as people generally clam up in a strict and formal setting. You can even inject some humor, perhaps by recounting a particular funny encounter during a project or event, to put him at ease. However, don't use embarrassing situations that were not in the favor of the employee, as he may still feel shy about it and think you have already formed certain opinions about him.

Try not to dominate the conversation, but shoot open-ended questions so that you can better understand the employees' take on the matters being discussed. However, always remember your objectives, and steer back to the appraisal if the discussion is going off-tangent.

Finally, let your employee know that you are willing to speak with him if he so wishes. If you have an open door policy, remind them of this fact, and tell them that the appraisal is not the only time that they can speak their mind about work-related issues. Ongoing feedback and communication is key to the success of projects and strong working relationships.

Angela is currently an MBA student at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Ms. Ly is looking to specialise in Finance, and has an interest in exploring topics in entrepreneurship and strategies for small businesses.

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