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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Productive reviews maximize performance

Performance reviews can be a nightmare for the manager and the employee. Often, no one has articulated the objectives or the results they hope to achieve. A performance review – conducted annually or otherwise – presents an invaluable opportunity for leadership development and strengthening of your organization’s succession planning process. You also will enhance relationships with your staff and help them build a stronger commitment to the company.

People perform better if they clearly understand expectations, participate in establishing performance goals and receive continuous feedback and coaching. They also will deliver the best value when their efforts are linked to the organization’s strategy.

Some organizations ask employees to use self-assessment tools. However, there is a risk. If you are unable to perform an evaluation ahead of time, then the employee’s self-assessment becomes the review itself.

A few tips:

1. Be prepared. Review the employee’s performance goals and the objectives of the performance review discussion - what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.

2. Lead with the positive. Set the current business context and the value of their contributions.

3. Do not be confrontational. You want to evaluate and provide feedback on job performance, not the individual. You want to raise – not lower – employee engagement.

4. Be consistent. Both, top performers and weak performers should receive an accurate understanding of how their performance is measured and your perspective on their next steps.

5. Make it a two-way conversation. Ask your employee about his or her ideas and concerns.

6. Address what is important to your employee. Job satisfaction is the number one criterion that affects an employee’s attitude – and therefore his or her level of performance – and ability to add value to the company.

7. Discuss work/life balance. Talk about ways to improve work/life balance. Discuss the employee’s career advancement opportunities and discuss what the future may hold.

8. Be a good listener. Nonverbal cues are important. Pay attention and be an active listener.

A successful performance review is one where your employee leaves the meeting feeling committed and excited about his or her job. Conversely, if your employee leaves feeling his or her needs are not satisfied, the less likely it is that they will be motivated to focus on team and company goals. In addition to telling employees you acknowledge and appreciate their efforts and contributions, it is also important to reward them, fairly and equitably.

Taking these steps will demonstrate your leadership and build greater engagement and performance on your team. After all, your company’s future success depends, in large part, on the success of your organization’s people.

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