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Building an effective employee performance review process

Aug 03 2015

Wayne Texeira  Marketing Director, CFMP, AINS, AIS, API

In talking with friends, the fall seems to be performance review time at a lot of companies. Performance evaluations often seem to be a dreaded process either because of the time it can take to prepare if you have a large staff or sometimes it's a time for frank discussions that some managers have been putting off.  With that in mind, I sat down with our HR Manager to talk about performance evaluations and ideas for how to make the process less painful for everyone involved. 

Experts believe that at least 50% of employee performance problems occur because of a lack of feedback.

Annual reviews can serve as a beneficial development tool to identify, measure, encourage, evaluate, reward and improve employee performance. Documenting employee performance is an important human resources management practice that can help avoid misunderstandings that could lead to legal action.

A performance review should NEVER be a surprise.

Feedback between the employee and manager should be ongoing, which is then formally summarized at set intervals. It’s important that the process be viewed as fair by employees. It should be balanced for an overall positive experience with constructive feedback included. Many organizations ask employees to complete a self-evaluation as the first step, which provides valuable insights as to how the employee views their own performance.

Tips for success.

There are many elements of a successful performance review process, but here are a few tips:

  • Establish well-written job descriptions outlining essential functions, standards, goals and expectations
  • Prepare in advance and plan for the process
  • Link company strategy to specific objectives and results
  • Evaluate yourself before your employee; how is your management helping or hindering performance?
  • Be objective and honest using specific and accurate examples
  • Remember to evaluate performance not personality
  • Identify development opportunities
  • Ask if the employee has questions or concerns
  • Put mutually decided objectives in writing
  • Show that you’re invested and that you care

Whatever your performance review process, it must be completed on time to reflect a sense of importance and urgency. 

Top-level support is a critical key to a successful program. While this seems obvious, lack of support is the main reason that performance evaluation systems fail to succeed. Supervisors and staff can quickly sense if top management is fully supporting the process or simply giving it lip service. Upper management must demonstrate in words and actions that it is determined to see the process succeed.

Additional Resources:

Conducting Performance Reviews
Why Organizations Do Employee Performance Evaluation  
Ten tips for conducting employee performance reviews 

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