Performance reviews usually leave the employee feeling one of two ways: completely exhilarated or completely defeated. These feelings have little to do with monetary gain, but rather revolve primarily around the regularity of the feedback provided and the conversation that occurs during the review.
When managers share feedback with their team on a regular basis (i.e. weekly, monthly, quarterly, or more often as needed) they tend to have a consistently engaged team. Their staff knows where they stand at all times and are more readily able to make any corrections as needed. Frequent feedback ensures that when issues arise, they are not allowed to develop into a decrease in productivity or a depression in morale. It also reduces the element of surprise in the formal review and can be used to enhance the specificity of how the employee’s performance has increased or decreased in the short-term and long-term. This makes organizing and delivering an accurate performance review much easier and time effective for the management involved.
While it is important to share learning opportunities, celebrating successes is even more important. It is often easy to focus on the negative because this is what is most overt. However, only focusing on the negative can do more harm than good in regards to employee confidence, engagement, and morale. Accentuating the positive creates an environment of encouragement. Team members will not only feel better about their work, but will accept any constructive criticism as opportunities to be better at what they already do well. That happiness can become infectious with co-workers providing praise to each other, which will result in an increase in collaboration, team work, creativity, and overall morale in the office.
Not all negative feedback is bad; just ensure your feedback is constructive and direct. When face with a learning opportunity, focus on situations where you can coach a team member. Help the employee learn how to use the talents they already possess to master aspects of their job that do not come easily to them.
When it is time to perform a more formal performance review, follow these four steps to optimize the experience for both you and your staff.
- Request self-audits: Ask team members to complete a brief self-audit. This will give you, the manager, information on how the employee perceives their own performance. It will also allow the employee to prepare for the evaluation. A self-audit should not be a replacement for any managerial preparations for a proper review. It should be one step in that process.
- Personalize the review: Some people respond well to a more blunt approach, while others need a more tactful approach or need examples. Great managers understand the variety of personalities represented on their teams and know how to tailor their messages appropriately.
- Set goals: Employees are more engaged when they understand the desired end result of their efforts. Part of the preparation process should include distinct, measurable goals that have a defined timeline.
- Allow for feedback: performance evaluations are a great time to understand how you can better support your staff. Make sure the team member has time to provide feedback to you. This simple dialogue can help clear up any misunderstandings and increase trust between you and your team.
When managers provide feedback on a regular basis, teams feel that they are in the loop. This breeds collaboration, increased levels of productivity and engagement. While negative feedback is needed at times, this should not be the only time you share feedback with your team. Positive messages will reap huge rewards and create a happier work environment for all.