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You sit down with an employee for their annual performance review and there are two ways it can go:

  1. The employee is SHOCKED to hear your thoughts on how they are performing. Good or bad, they had no idea and they are either shocked to hear you think they are doing great or they are shocked to hear that they have areas for improvement. Seeing as it has been a very long time since they had any feedback, their shock is understandable.

    OR, perhaps there is a better way…

  2. The review discussion is focused on particular areas of strength and areas for development for the employee.  This is not new information for either of you and the employee has been consciously working on leveraging their strengths and managing their weaknesses. The conversation is picking up from where you left off a few months ago and there is continuity to your feedback. The tone is collegial and focused on approaching the review with an eye to improvement and really listening to each other. There is mutual respect in all that is said.
So, which kind of performance review do you want to be a part of?
Performance management is all about providing employees with a workplace where they can bring their best selves to their work. Good performance management processes are ongoing, supported by open communication, clear goals and regular feedback.  When asked what creates engagement, employees indicate that they what they want most is to be heard, to find ways to contribute and to feel significant. The performance management system is the best way to provide this kind of environment.
Performance management is your gateway to so many valuable discussions.  Examples of things you can discuss include:
  • Training and development needs – are there any upcoming training programs, workshops or seminars that would be of interest?
  • Job design – how is the job itself? Are the tasks in their work accomplishing what was intended? Are there areas of overlap or inefficiencies that need to be address?
  • Job Satisfaction – are they experiencing a level of job satisfaction? What would improve their satisfaction?
  • Career Development – where would they like to go in their career? Is there training that would assist in achieving those goals? 
  • Engagement level – how engaged do they feel on a day to day basis? What would improve that?
  • Goal Setting – personal and professional – what goals do you have for the next 3, 6 and 12 months? What do they need to assist in achieving those goals?
There are many, many different frameworks and formats that can comprise your performance management system. If you are just starting out with your system, my advice is to keep the design simple and to become comfortable with that before you add the bells and whistles of an online performance management tracking system.  Add dates to your calendar every few months to remind yourself to do a performance discussion with someone – doesn’t have to be at their one year review – a conversation can take place anytime when you want to check in, give feedback and listen to your employees on how they are doing.
And a final tip: when you hire someone, the supervisor should immediately set up 3, 6 and12 month follow up meetings into their calendar so that time doesn’t get away from them and suddenly it has been 6 months before the employee was asked how things are going (and the first three months need a weekly check-in but that is for another day!). Keep on top of this and employees will notice and will appreciate the care and concern you are showing!
So, your assignment is to get up from your computer and go talk to an employee, give some feedback and listen to how things are going!
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