Many businesses see performance reviews as a necessary evil. Proponents of these reviews argue that they are needed to give feedback to employees for their on-the-job performance such as where they have been doing well and where they need to improve.
However, others say they are just a big waste of time. Often, they are not written with enough detail to be of value to the employee. They are filed away and are soon forgotten. Companies use them because they want to make sure employees are getting some kind of feedback.
But, according to some business experts, these types of reviews are really unnecessary if managers are doing a good job of giving feedback to their teams on a regular basis. Good managers make feedback one of their high-priority tasks. This emphasis is necessary if they want to ensure that they attain their goals.
To be effective, however, feedback has to focus not on the person, but on the performance. It needs to be specific. Simply saying someone is doing a great job is not enough; a manager needs to give examples of exactly what the person did to achieve that accolade. Similarly, if someone needs to improve his or her performance, the manager needs to specify how and why it is falling short, exactly what adequate performance is, and how the person can achieve it. Then the manager needs to follow up to make sure the person is making progress toward the goal.
Some use performance reports as part of the process leading to termination. They should never be used in that way. Performance reviews are about determining ways to improve performance, not a way to punish an employee. If they are used only to prepare an employee for termination, they will be useless as a tool for improvement.
If an employee is having performance problems that put him or her in danger of termination, the manager should use a progressive disciplinary process, such as written warnings, as a precursor. That way, employees won’t get performance reviews confused with disciplinary actions.
When giving feedback to an employee, the manager should include conversations about expectations. What kinds of expectations does the employee have for his or her future? Where does he or she hope to be? Then the supervisor can discuss ways that they can help the employee to reach his or her goals.
The bottom line is that supervisors should regularly be giving feedback to their team, asking how team members are doing, what challenges they are facing, if they are getting what they need from the supervisor, and what the supervisor can do to help.
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