Performance reviews can be stressful for everyone involved. They take a lot of time to prepare, they may cause some disagreements, and they can catch employees off-guard if they don’t know how managers view their performance.
Getting direct reports to take a more active role in managing their own performance throughout the year can make review time less painful – and even helpful.
When approached in this way, performance becomes a shared responsibility – the direct report is just as responsible for performance as his or her leader. Both parties should be tracking performance (the direct report tracking his or her own, and the manager documenting the direct report’s performance as well). Direct reports and their leaders should make notes about goals and expectations, accomplishments, and potential roadblocks. This will help guide conversations throughout the year.
To keep employees and managers on track, following a set review cycle can help facilitate feedback and assist with tracking progress. Depending on what works best for your organization, the cycle can follow a fiscal-, calendar-, or anniversary-year basis.
- Kick off the cycle by setting goals for the year.
- Mid-way through the cycle, review the results to date. What roadblocks or challenges have come up? How is the employee doing with meeting the goals that were set? Do goals need to be revised as a result of a shift in the strategic plan or the company’s focus? Now is a good time to review the employee’s job description. Is it still accurate? Does anything need to be added or removed?
- At the end of the cycle, review overall results and have a formal discussion about performance. Has the employee met their goals? The employee should come into the end-of-cycle review being fully aware of where they stand, with no surprises about performance.
Setting Good Goals
With all of this talk about goal setting – how do you go about setting a good goal from the start? Each goal should be:
- Time bound (set a firm deadline)
As goals are set, it’s important to keep in mind what the organization wants to accomplish. How can the direct report align his or her goals with the goals of the corporation? Both parties should write the goals down, go over them together, and make sure they agree.
Discussions About Performance
It’s normal for direct reports and leaders to be nervous about kicking off a performance discussion, but following a simple process can help the discussion go smoothly, and allow both parties the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions.
- Start with an opening statement to clarify the purpose of the meeting (“we’re here today to discuss your progress toward meeting the goals we set for the year”).
- Spend time interacting to develop and talk about goals. What goals are achievable? What kind of impact would they make on the organization? What’s been accomplished, and what has not? Both parties should have ample opportunities to talk and share their views.
- Once the goals have been identified, it’s important that both parties agree on the outcome. The direct report and the supervisor should leave knowing that they’re both on the same page regarding what was agreed to.
- Close the discussion with a statement that outlines action steps and a summary of the discussion.
Interested in learning more about performance reviews and goal setting? Listen to this free archived webinar, presented by Insperity: Setting Goals and Reviewing Results. The webinar offers more detail about each of these processes, as well as how to incorporate personality assessments into the review process, manage liability in terms of performance reviews and goal setting, and rate employee performance.
If you have questions about performance reviews, contact us!