326 — Better Employee Performance Reviews

The best performance reviews help employees improve their performance. Do this with engagement, by helping employees self-identify areas they want to improve, and supporting them in their changes.

Here is a review process I have used that gets great results. Many of my clients have used this same review process and say that in addition to improving employee performance, supervisors enjoy giving these reviews — instead of dreading (and often postponing) performance-review-time.

Agree on Performance Areas

You begin this review by sitting together with the employee at a table (not at your desk) with a blank sheet of paper. Ask the employee to write down the six areas that they consider most important in doing their work. If the person does not write an area that you consider very important, think about how you might communicate better over the next few months. (If you really feel a need to discuss the not-listed area with the employee during the performance review, be sure to do it gently and ask if he or she shares your opinion.)

Agree on Performance Level

Now ask the employee to draw a 3-4 inch line to the right of the first area. On the left-hand ask them to write “needs improvement” and on the right end of the line write “meets expectations”.

performance review

Now asked the employee to draw a flattened circle (ellipse) on the line that covers the range where they think they are with that area in the last six months. Ask them to do the same with each of the six topics. Next you draw a similar ellipse where you see the employee’s performance over the last six months. Usually you will find that the employee evaluates him or her self more harshly than you do. This sets the stage for discussion.

Agree on the Plan

Now asked the employee which one or two areas he or she would like to work on, with your help, over the next few months. You might ask him or her to meet with you again the following week with his or her ideas or a plan on how this might be done, or he or she may have some ideas right then to discuss. Either way the next step is for you and the employee to agree on a plan, together with an understanding of how you will both know if it is working. This plan must include your meeting with the employee at least once a month to discuss progress. If you allow months ago by with no discussion you almost guarantee nothing will change.

This employee-centered, results-based performance review can be used to complement the more formal evaluation processes used in many companies.

cc 326  ©  Barry Phegan, Ph.D.

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