6 Tips to Better Prepare for Year-End Performance Reviews

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The year is quickly coming to a close, which could mean it’s time to schedule performance reviews for each of your employees. While this annual activity is often dreaded by everyone involved, it doesn’t have to be that way. When properly conducted, a performance review can help align management with their team and prime each individual with expectations and objectives for success in the upcoming year.

6 Tips to Prepare for Year-End Performance Reviews

Follow the six guidelines given below to conduct a round of effective performance reviews:

1. Ask Employees to Complete a Self-Assessment

Engaging employees in the performance review process allows them to have a voice. Ask them to complete a self-assessment and submit it to you at least a few days before meeting with them. This is a great way to see how the perception measures up to your own opinions about their performance, which may be markedly different. When you know what they are thinking going into the meeting, you can have a much more productive discussion about challenges, priorities and expectations.

2. Use Metrics When Possible

Your employees each have their own strengths and weaknesses. While performance is often difficult to quantify, one of the most effective ways to evaluate employees is to establish measurements. The key is to make sure your metrics are fair, relevant and consistent. This will allow you to assess each individual’s performance apples to apples, as well as provide a clear method to evaluate improvement. Moving forward, ensure those on your team are aware of the criteria at the time they begin employment, not at the time of their first evaluation.

3. Gather Specific Examples

It can be difficult for employees to recall specifics when a barrage of generalized statements about their performance is thrown their way. Employees receiving criticism might deny fault and become defensive. Add credibility to your points by providing examples. Whether feedback is good or bad, it’s helpful for people to know you’re aware of the their work and care enough to take note of their accomplishments and struggles. Give detailed accounts of what employees are doing well and areas where they can improve, as it will help present a clear direction of goals to strive for in the year ahead.

4. Be Honest

Being the boss isn’t easy. While it’s not fun to give negative feedback to employees you truly value and respect, it’s important to remember that feedback will help them learn and grow. After all, everyone makes mistakes and remember that professional development is just that, a continuous process of improvement. Deliver your critiques kindly, listen to any comments and inquire about what you can do to help them improve. Make it clear that you’re trying to resolve a performance issue, not attack their character.

5. Make Time for Discussion

People do not respond well to one-sided conversations. Spending the entire meeting reading off the scores is both robotic and ineffective. Instead allow your employees to be part of the conversation. Ask them for their thoughts and offer a chance to explain situations in which they fell short. When discussing areas of improvement, involve them in any goal-setting. It will allow them to voice any concerns regarding unrealistic objectives and ensure they truly understand your expectations moving forward. Including employees in the evaluation process shows that you truly care about their career development and want them to succeed.

6. Schedule the Meeting Far in Advance

For many companies, the holiday season is the busiest of the year. Put year-end performance reviews on the calendar as early as possible, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. This key activity is essential to wrapping up 2015 and starting the year off to a strong start, so make it a priority.

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