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Preparing for an Employee Performance Review

Employee Performance

Too often we don’t prepare for a performance review session with an employee. We are not comfortable having a conversation with the employee (especially if we have to talk about issues with performance) and put off having the meeting as long as we can. Then, when we finally sit down to meet with the employee, we are unprepared which only makes the situation worse – unproductive and truly uncomfortable.

Take these best practice steps to prepare for and facilitate an employee performance review meeting:

Prior to the meeting:

  1. Gather documentation about performance – this may include project reviews, goals accomplished, tasks accomplished, etc.
  2. Prepare the formal performance review document. Don’t just use the ranking; add comments in to the document.
  3. Think about how you will have the conversation you need to have with the employee. What do you need to say? What is going well? What needs to improve? What examples will you provide in each case? What will you suggest to improve what needs to be improved?
  4. Think about what concerns and questions the employee may have and ask during the performance review. Will they understand what you are telling them? Is this all “new” to the employee? Or have you had these conversations before? (Nothing should ever be “new” in a performance review – in ideal situations, you have had conversations with the employee throughout the year – both around what is going well and what needs to improve.)
  5. Ask the employee to bring to the meeting their assessment of their performance for the year. What goals did they accomplish? What goals do they see need to accomplish? What challenges are they facing? What successes have they had?

At the meeting:

  1. Ensure that you are not interrupted by phone calls, emails or other distractions.
  2. When discussing performance, discuss both the positive aspects and areas of improvement. Provide examples and ensure there is sufficient opportunities for the employee to provide input.
  3. Enable time for the employee to ask questions after you are done presenting the information.
  4. Work collaboratively with the employee to update/create their development plan – what do they need to focus on? How will you support them improving in certain areas? How will they develop their skills and increase their knowledge? Set timelines and milestones for improvement.
  5. Set a next meeting date to check in on the development plan.

If you prepare ahead of time for the performance review, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident in having the conversation with your employee. And your employee will appreciate the fact that you are prepared. Remember, information on performance reviews should never be a surprise. You should be having conversations with the employee (even if informally) throughout the year.