December 5, 2019

4 Ways to Ruin a Performance Review

by Mike O'Neill

Performance Reviews don’t have to be painful, contentious, nor an obstacle to be overcome each year. Done right, they provide regular feedback to your employees demonstrating that you’re invested in their personal development, which can keep them more engaged and often, more productive.

But handling a performance review poorly can have serious consequences.

Here are four actions that can easily destroy a performance review:

COMPARING ONE EMPLOYEE TO ANOTHER

Some managers make it a point to compare two individuals who are in similar functions, and not how well or poorly they have fared on the yearly goals. This accomplishes nothing and could make your employees feel uncomfortable.

SHORT TERM MEMORY EFFECT

Most performance evaluations tend to focus on performance over the most recent period, even if the employee has accomplished great things over the course of the entire year. Do your homework before the review – or better yet, take diligent notes throughout the year. This way, when review time comes, you’ll be able to reflect on the entire review period, not just recent performance.

FOCUSING ONLY ON STRENGTHS OR WEAKNESSES

You never want to beat down the employee on their weak areas to the point, where they forget their strengths. But you shouldn’t brush issues under the carpet either. Some managers are scared of telling employees where they need to change course or align energy. They often speak in general terms to avoid specifics.

DISCUSSING AN EMPLOYEE’S PERSONAL CHOICES

Comments on family life, religious beliefs, etc., should be left out of the conversation completely. They have little or nothing to do with the employee’s actual performance or tasks that drive performance.

Performance evaluations are an imperfect tool that only captures snippets of information. They communicate what is and is not important for employees to do — for better or worse.

But performance evaluations can also paint a well-rounded picture of contributions, opportunities for improvement and plans for what’s next.

In other words, they lay the foundation for a great conversation.

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