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The Mirror Issue:
Many managers are worried about an employee's poor performance reflecting on their managerial skills. This is probably the most common reason scores are "watered down" and employees find themselves with a consistently "average" review, which ultimately gives them very little information. The emphasis in a WorkplaceToolbox.com performance review form is to accurately identify areas that need improvement, and work together to figure out how to do just that.
Directly meet challenges head on.
If the employee is not doing well in a certain area, ask yourself if you have given them insufficient feedback or support. How can you help them improve? What are some changes you might need to make as well? Is there any additional training that could help? Note your goals, along with measurable steps on the Performance Planning Record.
Keep it balanced
Make an effort to notice what employees are doing right so you can bring this up during the review. Acknowledgement is one of the most motivating elements of feedback. Make sure you have enough specific examples to draw from for discussions during the review meeting.
Make sure you are current with the employee's present projects and work assignments so that you will be able to have an in-depth discussion with them regarding their performance. Know what is going on with your employee's work life.
When the focus is on possible improvements, it seems only natural to be looking for what the employee is doing wrong now. Again, remember to balance your comments with feedback about what the employee is doing well. It's all too easy to overemphasize the negative and pull down the entire tone of the review.
What if the employee disagrees with your assessment? Give the employee the opportunity to explain his or her opinion, and see if you can't come to some sort of consensus. This is a time where it might be helpful to return to the job description - does the employee have a different interpretation of a specific responsibility? Keep talking, and do your best to keep the conversation calm, focused on performance issues, and respectful.
Goals are another area where your discussion might run aground. Does the employee feel that any mention of improvement is a statement of wrongdoing? There is always room for improvement - improvements keep the job interesting and the workplace efficient.
If an employee wants to focus on a particular area because of personal goals, such as advancement, see if you can work together on supporting those plans in a measured and realistic way, through training, or meeting certain performance milestones.
Drawing out silent employees
For all employees, be sure to ask open-ended questions, such as, "What areas do you think need improvement?" rather than "So did you find any areas you think you need to improve on, or not?" If a question can be answered with a simple yes or no, it's probably not open-ended.
Let the employee explain herself first. Then, offer your input!
Give solid time and attention to completing the review. You wouldn't want someone rushing through an assessment of your performance. There is a lot at stake for the employee during a review. Respect that fact, and give it the care it deserves.
A more effective way to state the goals above would be:
-I will clear off all papers from my desk at the end of every workday and file them in their correct folders. I will begin doing this on August 7.
-I will visually double-check all contracts before submitting them, in addition to using the spelling checker on my computer, beginning February 20.
-I will complete the following steps to attain the Employee of the Month Award for this coming May, starting today, March 19th:
-Specific dollar amount for sales total
-Specific steps to take to reach sales goals
-Working in partnership with supervisor, will review progress every two weeks initially, then every three weeks.
For best results during a review, keep the following points in mind:
-If you don't know something, admit it, and follow up on getting an answer.
-Now is not the time to discuss another employee's performance, or to compare this employee with anyone else in the company.
-Relate to the employee as an individual, not just as authority figure to subordinate.
-Create realistic, measurable goals. A goal is worthy only if you can tell whether it's been accomplished or not.
Some examples of poorly worded goals:
-Try harder to keep my desk more organized.
-Do my best to make sure the contracts are done right.
-Make Employee of the Month by the beginning of next quarter.
"Trying harder" and "doing your best" are actions that cannot be measured. How would you know if someone is trying hard enough or not?
The employee performance review might have gone well, and both you and the employee were excited about the goals you came up with. Now what? It's up to the employee to implement changes, but it's up to you to periodically check back with the employee to see how it's going. Circumstances will dictate how often to follow up, but a good rule of thumb is at least once a week, and maybe more frequently in the beginning, such as twice a week.
Goals should be realistic and measurable, with incremental steps if necessary. Two vital elements for creating a measurable goal:
A clearly defined result or target
Specific actions to take to get there
The last goal, making Employee of the Month, is halfway there. The result of this goal is clearly defined, but what specific actions would someone need to take to win this award?
In addition to having a clear target and measurable steps, each and every step needs to have a deadline, or a start date. So not only will you have a specific action that needs to be completed, but now you also have a date to begin or to gauge progress. In the case of a deadline, it will either be done by that date or not. Measuring becomes very simple.
Lastly, you may decide to make some changes to the job description for that employee if you see any structural problems they just can't seem to circumvent. Perhaps they need more job responsibility in one area to be able to work more efficiently, perhaps less.