5 Steps to Better Performance Reviews

How to conduct year-end reviews that are practical, meaningful and motivational for employees.

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By Mike Steinerd


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The end of the year is often the time when companies conduct performance reviews. While many leaders and managers understand the importance and long-term value of these reviews, they are often not high on the list of priorities during this busy time of year.

For many companies however, this may be the only time designated for employers and employees to reflect, reset and re-focus on achieving new goals and professional growth – and to discuss salary changes and bonuses. Below are my top five tips for conducting year-end reviews that are not only pragmatic, but also meaningful and motivational for employees.

1. Be specific and transparent.
The more specific a review, the more useful it is for the employee, and the more likely that it will lead to improved performance and morale. Reviews should include specific examples of great performance or areas for improvement. If there is no formal review structure, create a transparent process – divide the review into specific goals and competencies, clearly defining how much weight each category should receive. This way, employees know exactly how they are evaluated and what's most important.

2. Check in frequently.
Ideally, managers and employees should check in on performance at least quarterly, or even weekly one-on-ones. If your company only evaluates performance annually or bi-annually, managers and employees should still check in frequently to minimize surprises or disagreements at the end of the year. Touching base on performance throughout the quarter allows time to make changes or address issues as they arise rather than holding for review cycles or before year-end reviews.

Related: How Well Are Managers Really Evaluating Their Employees? (Infographic)

3. Gather feedback from all parties.
Some companies implement 360 reviews, where employees can provide feedback for their managers, direct reports and peers. If no such process exists, managers should still solicit feedback informally from others who work with the employee. This not only ensures that more than one point of view is considered, but will also help foster an environment of teamwork and trust.

Self-evaluations can be equally important, providing employees with an opportunity to present not only their achievements and how they've overcome obstacles, but also to reflect on areas for improvement in the future. At Indeed, all employees complete self-evaluations that are reviewed by their manager as part of the performance review process.

4. Know what motivates your employees.
It's important to know your employees and deliver tailored feedback that will be the most constructive and impactful for the individual. Some employees are most motivated by concrete, quantitative data on their performance and how that directly affects potential raises and bonuses.

Whether employees are driven by recognition, financial incentives or career development opportunities, it is important to know what resonates with each person so that the review process is productive.

When it comes time to deliver reviews, consider heading out of the office and doing it over coffee or lunch. These casual settings often yield a more collaborative and productive conversation.

5. Make use of technology.
There is an array of performance evaluation software available for companies of all sizes and budgets. Software can quickly and easily implement a process around performance reviews that will ultimately save time, holds everyone accountable to conducting reviews and further enables a transparent and documented review process. At Indeed, we use a cloud-based people management platform that is easy to modify and simple for all employees to use.

Related: Salary Review Season Is Coming. Who's Getting a Raise?

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