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10 Do's and 6 Don'ts for Employee Performance Reviews

10 Do's and 6 Don'ts for Employee Performance Reviews

employee performance reviewsPerformance reviews are important for ensuring that employees are successfully meeting their job requirements, identifying under-performance issues and providing employees with an opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.  Effective performance evaluations should align employees’ development and professional growth with that of your business.  Employees are generally more productive and motivated when they understand the role their contributions play in achieving the company’s goals and objectives.  The performance review process can be a great way to strengthen the relationship between a manager and employee by promoting open communication in a relaxed environment.

It’s important to keep the following do's and don'ts in mind to minimize the stress level for both employees and their managers, as well as maximize the effectiveness of your performance review process. 

Do's: Best Practices for Conducting Employee Peformance Evaluations

  1. DO have a system in place for measuring performance.  Make sure you have a clear system upon which to measure performance and that employees understand the performance standards against which they will be evaluated.  This could be as simple as tracking the number of clients contacted or the number of sales per month, or it could be obtained from sources like customer satisfaction surveys.  
  2. DO be direct, factual and detail-oriented.  A well-prepared and honest performance review is the key to managing employee performance.  It helps to achieve your company's goals by aligning your employees' development with the performance of your business.
  3. DO document all points covered in a work performance evaluation.  Accurate documentation allows for ongoing feedback and can help measure an employee's progress.  Performance records can also provide important documentation for your company in the event a disciplinary action, termination or other adverse personnel decision becomes necessary.
  4. DO request comments, views and thoughts from the employee.
  5. DO highlight good performance and why it was good. 
  6. DO use the performance review documentation to guide the evaluation and record outcomes. Remember to be honest with your review.  If you provide a very positive review of an employee without detailing the problems, you now have documentation that does not support a decision to discipline or terminate.  If a lawsuit surrounding the termination occurs, it may be more difficult to defend your company's actions.  
  7. DO ask the employee to analyze and evaluate their own work performance. 
  8. DO remember the performance review is a discussion. 
  9. DO be aware of how you word or phrase questions and statements to help eliminate the potential for misinterpretation. 
  10. DO agree that there is a need for a change in the employee’s performance before developing a plan of action.  Discuss a plan of action for helping the employee to improve work performance and encourage the employee to contribute ideas on how to reach performance goals. 

Don'ts: Things to Consider in Preparing for a Work Performance Review

  1. DON'T wait to discuss employee performance management issues until their annual review.  When it comes time for the formal review, there really shouldn't be any surprises if there has been ongoing communication and feedback between the supervisor and employee.  Provide a clear, concise explanation of the issues you wish to address with the employee and provide specific examples. 
  2. DON'T be critical of personalities or try to change them. 
  3. DON'T avoid or dodge difficult discussions. 
  4. DON'T use closed-ended or rhetorical questions. 
  5. DON'T forget that change can be threatening to an employee. 
  6. DON'T make negative comments that attack an employee's attitude rather than work performance.  Be sure to review the employee's overall performance based upon specific, job-related criteria and provide concrete examples of performance problems. 

Remember to treat all of your employees fairly when it comes to performance reviews and avoid any statements or actions that can be construed as discriminatory.  If you have any questions regarding discrimination matters, contact an employment law attorney who knows your state laws.