National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

How to Create an Effective Performance Review Process

Originally published in FleetOwner

It is difficult to find someone who actually likes performance reviews. Almost universally, both managers and employees find them to be a waste of time and say they provide little value. A typical performance review happens once a year with both sides struggling to find things to talk about and with mangers ticking off boxes in order to get them completed by the stated deadline.

15Five, a people management solutions provider, says rather than having one annual review managers should be meeting with employees more frequently in order to have continuous conversations about performance, goals and career growth. They believe conversations between managers and employees about employee performance ideally should take place quarterly.

In addition to occurring more frequently, the conversations should center around specific goals and growth plans with agreed-upon key performance indicators used to objectively gauge progress.

During the performance reviews, managers should give very specific feedback on things the employee is doing well and actions being taken to achieve his or her goals as well as areas that still need improvement. The manager also needs to talk about the resources the company will provide to help the employee reach their goals and remind the employee that he or she has the manager’s full support.

There also needs to be ongoing discussions about career growth within the company. Again, a specific and detailed plan needs to be developed that makes it clear to the employee the steps needed to progress toward their goal along with corporate resources that are available to them.

In its e-book, An HR Leader’s Guide to More Effective Performance Reviews, 15Five says that performance reviews should be focused on inspiring future performance. When you increase the frequency and focus on future performance, you get a more accurate measurement of employee progress. When done properly, “performance reviews should be ongoing discussions, not year-end stressors,” the company says.

Of course, in order for these more frequent reviews to be successful, managers need to be taught “the art of feedback.” Vague or general feedback about performance is not helpful. Saying things like, “your work needs to improve,” does not provide any guidance to an employee. Managers need to be taught how to give specific feedback and guidance. Here is an example from 15Five: “I noticed you were late on your last two deadlines. I’d like to work with you on your time management to ensure you’re not committing to too much and completing each of your tasks on time.”

One item of note, you will get the added benefit of increased employee engagement if during these performance reviews you can show the employee how his or her work impacted the company and allowed the company to achieve its goals. People like to feel that the work they do matters in the big picture.

Turning your performance reviews into more frequent conversations that focus on specific measurable goals and employee growth will turn them from being a chore to being a valuable tool.