For most executives, performing employee evaluations is a necessary evil -- highly important but low on personal priority list. For employees they are usually stressful, filled with mixed messages (a bit of praise, a bit of criticism -- neither of which are constructive input), and ultimately uninspiring, if not downright deflating. The most valuable use of an employee review is what's typically missing: constructive input.
What you want your employees to take away from every review is: performance improvement, job satisfaction, employee retention and refreshed motivation. Those characteristics are not born of the praise/criticize cycle, but of collaborative goal setting, problem-solving, and encouragement for innovation. Here's how to break out of the "pointless review" cycle and into the "let's work even better" cycle.
Keep this process relaxed and informal and focus on finding out:
At every step, ask yourself:
If you can't answer each of these with a resounding "yes", keep working.
The day before the review, check in with the employee and ask if she has anything else she'd like to add to the discussion notes. Schedule the review for the following day, mid-morning or mid-afternoon -- ask him which he prefers as some people think better at different times of the day.
An hour before the review, give the employee the written review. It's important that they have time to digest it before you talk, but not enough time to discuss it with others, make misinterpretations without you present to deliver clarity, or stew about any rating or comment that falls under the criticism category.
At the beginning of the review meeting, ask him if he has any pressing questions, emotional reactions, confusion or surprise about what he just read. Give him a chance, even encouragement to react. Best to get anything that causes a reaction cleared up up-front.
As you go through the rating aspects of the review, encourage discussion of each -- make sure she feels empowered even to disagree and state why. Chances are, she came to the review with one pressing issue on her mind: how much? The salary change issue -- which hopefully you can deal with another day, but if not do that last. By encouraging engagement throughout the review, that question gets put aside and the process really can develop a plan of action for the following year. Don't rush through the rated section, but make it known that the planning discussion is coming and really the best part of the meeting.
Now the good part, the collaborative discussion of all the information he gave you a few weeks earlier as they compare to your perception around the same issues. This is when you both really work together to:
Finally, have a chat about his career objectives. You need to know what he wants and facilitate his achievement of this. Hopefully, this will give you the opportunity to open the salary discussion at another time. The outcome of the review, collaborative constructive input, and knowledge of his aspirations are what should guide you to your salary decisions. Now, that's constructive.
Examples of Constructive Criticism in the Workplace, Joseph Chris
Guest Blog by MetaExpert Richard Vales: Perception and Misconception and Operational Excellence
Guest Blog by MetaExpert Bob Forshay: Communication’s Essential Role in Achieving Operational Excellence
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