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Business Productivity Means High Performing Employees

Performance reviews provide a mechanism to evaluate employee accomplishments and behaviors during the year. This includes areas for improvement, promotion opportunities and supporting decisions for salary adjustments. In addition, the performance review process establishes objectives for the next year and a continuous program for reviewing progress and adjusting priorities. A continual focus on performance is crucial to building a productive and profitable business for the long term.

The key to a successful performance review rests on your ability to provide feedback and set objectives by interacting with employees to motivate them to perform. Leaders must learn to focus on work performance and to provide appropriate feedback to both good and poor performers. Emphasize the results expected and direct criticism at the work delivered to achieve these results, and not at the employee. Relate results to individual and organizational objectives to reinforce the importance of the work to the organization.

Review performance of work activities over the entire appraisal period. Don’t focus only on short periods with exceptional or poor performance or just the last few weeks prior to the review. Avoid criticisms and accusatory statements directed at the individual's character. This will almost definitely destroy any possibility of an objective, interactive interview. Treat the employee with respect as a responsible adult by providing guidance on correcting behavior and not by instructions that sound like orders.

Preserve integrity and ethical values when communicating feedback, regardless of the discomfort this might cause. Provide a balanced view regarding specific performance issues. For example, an employee with generally good performance will receive an inappropriate message if you open the review discussion with a strong reaction to a small area of weakness. Reinforce the employee's responsibility for their own performance to avoid having energy diverted to defensive behavior and fictitious excuses. Propose other assignments if the employee’s skills and personality style are a clear mismatch for their current function.

Encourage the employees to express themselves fully and provide time to help them develop their thoughts independently. Ask open-ended questions to stimulate discussion and avoid yes or no answers. Attempting to guess the subconscious reasons for particular behaviors will only misdirect the interview.

Provide the employee with information and suggestions on specific areas that will help them to improve their performance. Acknowledge the employee's strengths and weaknesses and recommend specific actions to increase skills and knowledge. Ask them to suggest or share ideas they may have for developing their skills and consider these seriously. Identify areas that may be improved with training courses and propose appropriate training and/or seminars. Relate observed trends and inclinations to the employee and provide direction to help the employee understand how to make long-term improvements.

Close the interview by reviewing the major duties and responsibilities of the job and an action plan for accomplishing agreed objectives and development programs. Provide a clear statement of, and have the employee confirm, the standards against which their performance will be measured. Develop a written record of the review, including proposed ratings. Such a record is invaluable in cases where the message to the employee is not well received.

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