Human Resources

Reviewing Employees

Written by Andrew Goldman for Gaebler Ventures

Reviewing your employees is both necessary and beneficial. By consistently reviewing your employees and providing honest feedback, both the employees and the company will be better off.

While most big businesses have reviewing processes as part of their culture, small businesses tend to put less of an emphasis on employee reviews.

Reviewing Employees

Reviewing all of your employees, at the senior level and front-line, is critical for success.

First, your employees need to know where they stand in the company. They need to know how they are performing compared to expectations and they should have future goals and milestones laid out in front of them. In addition, your employees should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their work, their supervisors and your company.

The reviewing process should be structured and part of your company policy. Companies typically review on an annual or semi-annual basis. Obviously, the more you review your employees the more up to speed they will be.

Depending upon your operation, semi-annual reviews may be cumbersome. Choose the best review structure for your company, but make sure that you are consistent and that reviews are unavoidable.

I've seen a myriad of reviewing processes throughout my consulting experience. Some companies only review their "blue-collar" workers, while others only their office workers. The truth is your senior level managers should be reviewed along with everyone else in your company.

Offering two-way reviews can be extremely informative as well. Two-way reviews include the employee writing a review about their immediate supervisor. You should not be apprehensive about potential hard feelings; these feelings are better brought to the forefront rather than left to boil over at some later date.

During the reviews of your employees, the immediate supervisor as well as an additional senior manager should be involved. The written review is usually compiled by the immediate supervisor. A face to face meeting with the supervisor, employee and senior manager should take place to discuss the written review.

During the review, honest feedback should be given to the employee with thoroughness. No stone should be left unturned. You should try to incorporate both positives and negatives into the review. The employee should have a chance to justify their actions, but they should not feel like they are being attacked. During the review process goals should be laid out for the employee for the upcoming period. At the next review, these goals should be compared versus the employee's actual performance.

The reviewing process can be a nerve-wrecking time for certain employees. As a result, the reviewing process needs to be handled carefully and completed confidentially.

Just because you have a reviewing process in place, does not mean that feedback should be limited to those review sessions. Your employees should have a good sense of where they stand when they begin the reviewing process. The reviews are far less stressful if there are no surprises.

In order to achieve this level of understanding, your supervisors should be giving their employees constant feedback on a weekly if not daily basis. While this feedback may not be formal, supervisors should offer positive and negative feedback as it arises.

How well you review your employees is directly related to how well your employees will perform in the future. If you do not review your employees or are not honest during review sessions, problems are likely to repeat and improvement is less likely to occur.

In addition, reviews provide formal documentation of an employee's performance that can be referred to as management changes. Reviews are a necessary part of any business and need to be managed as carefully as any other aspect of your company.

Andrew Goldman is an Isenberg School of Management MBA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has extensive experience working with small businesses on a consulting basis.

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