How to conduct a fair performance review

1 minute read | 12 April 2022
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Performance reviews are standard practice and a way of evaluating an employee’s productivity and overall performance. This is a useful tool to refine job descriptions, identify the employees strengths and weaknesses and set new goals based on feedback. However, they can be hard to navigate as a manager. At Boardrm, we believe in supporting your career through all stages, therefore here’s a guide on how to conduct a fair performance review.

Regardless of how often the organisation conducts performance reviews, these meetings should benefit both managers and employees. Employees will gain a better understanding of what they are doing well and what their weaknesses are, whilst managers have the opportunity to communicate their expectations. Employees will also have the chance to ask any questions and give feedback on their managers and/ or organisation.

Although leading a performance review might seem like a straightforward task, it’s important that the meeting is well structured and prepared for.

Be Prepared.

You need to be prepared. Your lack of preparation won’t go unnoticed as according to a recent report, one in ten employees feel their manager wasn’t well prepared for their performance appraisal. To do this, you should review notes from their previous performance reviews and analyse the goals and KPI’s set, as well as any other challenges stated at the time and compare it to the individual’s progress.

Create a joined agenda.

Once you have prepared your research, it is a good idea to create an agenda for the meeting. Just like in any other meeting, an agenda will help guide the direction of the discussion and act as an aid to ensure you cover everything you intended to do.

After you create an agenda, send it to the employee and invite them to add any other points they would like to discuss. This should not be a one-way conversation so make sure you allow the employee to add in points of discussion. By doing so, you allow both parties to talk about everything you need to, as well as prepare for the conversation.

Discuss the challenges and successes.

This is where you will highlight the areas that need improvement and the areas where the employee is doing well. These need to be based around their objectives and KPI’s. However, before you start sharing your thoughts on this, a big tip is to ask the employee what they think regarding their performance. They might have come to the same conclusion as you so it’s a good place to start a conversation and avoid making it a one-way meeting.

This section should be split between the positives and what needs improving. Start with what the employee has been doing well and the successful areas as a way of providing a positive start to the meeting. Following that, you can move on to the areas that need improvement. Please note that the way you articulate this section is of massive importance.

  • Use tangible, pertinent examples.
When talking about both the strengths and the weaknesses, make sure you have a clear example of reference. This will provide clarity and the examples act as proof of what you are saying. It also shows the employee that you are paying attention.

By using these examples and explaining what worked and what didn’t work, you will create the standard to have a good conversation with your employee.

Regardless of industry and role specific skills, most employee reviews include assessment of these skills:
  • Communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Quality and accuracy of work
  • Attendance, punctuality, and reliability
  • The ability to accomplish goals and meet deadlines

A review should also include company-specific or position-specific competencies, as well as the employee's accomplishments and contributions to their role or organisation.
 

Agree on future actions.

The main purpose of a performance review is to be focused on the employee’s future development. During this part of the meeting, you should focus on what the employee wants to develop as well as what they need to improve. Depending on the course of the conversation, there will most likely be points of improvement. Agreeing on future actions by implementing an action plan, with the employee’s future professional development in mind, you are setting a clear plan for the employee to follow. All these actions should be achievable and unique to each employee.

Summarise the meeting.

A conclusion is always the best way to finalise any meeting. You should summarise all that has been discussed and who is responsible for which actions moving forward.

Extra Tips.
  • Keep Job Descriptions Current: Assessing an employee based on outdated criteria is unfair and not productive, so take this opportunity to update job descriptions and KPI’s. Job descriptions and work requirements change over time therefore, to avoid confusion, maintain up-to-date information.
  • Balance Critiques and Criticism: There is a fine line between critiquing and criticizing. And performance reviews are a chance to highlight both the good and the bad. Of course, underperformance needs to be addressed, but it should be balanced out by the employees strengths. When you do need to address personal areas of concern with the employee, maintain a professional and balanced tone. Do not speak down to the employee and you'll be able to create a more fair work performance review.
  • Listen: Performance reviews are a place for real dialogue to take place. It should feel more like a conversation rather than only you talking. Therefore, give your employee a chance to respond to evaluation and express their perspectives.
  • Offer Regular Feedback: As a manager is important to give regular feedback and not just on formal performance reviews. As performance reviews only happen once or twice a year, it’s important to offer consistent assessments and create opportunities where you can give feedback to your employee. Employees need regular feedback as this is an effective way of making sure they are staying in the right track and feel supported.
  • Take notes: You should also take constant notes on employee performance – especially when there are no performance reviews on the horizon.

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