In a perfect world, employees completely understand what their manager expects of them, making a performance review irrelevant. Imagine having a workforce full of “model employees” – the kind that work hard at their job, produce timely results and don’t slouch in their duties? Reality check time.
Despite the dream of many new managers, most of the employees you work with will not be “perfect” and even the best ones need to be measured and guided on a regular basis to continually improve.
But, how much difference can a performance review really make? Turns out, quite a bit.
The top three reasons for doing regular performance reviews:
Ensure employees understand expectations
Have you ever been frustrated with an employee who wasn’t quite meeting your expectations? I don’t know how many times I’ve had a conversation with a manager about the underwhelming work of an employee. Oftentimes, the lagging performance has escalated to the point where they want to terminate employment effective immediately, which isn’t usually the best idea.
The first question I ask the supervisor is, “Have you discussed this with the employee?”
It’s such a simple and obvious question, isn’t it? You’d be surprised to find that many times the supervisor hasn’t even talked to the employee about their performance. Instead, they often assume that the employee knows and will make the necessary changes themselves. That rarely ever happens.
Your responsibility as management is not simply to meet the production quota. A large part of it is to serve as a guide and mentor for your employees. Good leaders work with their employees to help them improve.
The expectation should be that if an employee is doing a great job, you tell them. If they’re not – you guessed it – you tell them and guide them on how to improve.
When you provide that feedback, allow the employee to provide a response and listen to their answers. Maybe there is a good reason they’re not currently excelling. You won’t know that unless you communicate.
Set tangible goals and realistic expectations
It’s always easier to work hard when you have something you are trying to achieve. Regular performance reviews provide employees with goals – whether daily, monthly, quarterly, or annually – to work toward. Setting tangible goals encourages them to continue to excel in their positions and provides the supervisor with realistic expectations from their employees.
If an employee knows that meeting their goals will result in a positive review, they will be more likely to work harder. Conversely, they’ll avoid having to admit to not meeting goals and will look for solutions beforehand.
Every year, my family runs a little competition to see who can most accurately pick the winners on the road to the Stanley Cup. I’m not usually a sports fan in any way, but when the family is involved, and the winner gets their name engraved on a trophy, I’m suddenly a super fan for those few months. I’ve never won, but I enjoy working towards that goal because of the camaraderie and the reward.
Each time an employee is reviewed, go over the previous goals with them and establish new goals. This will show that you are personally invested in your employees and their success.
Compare current job duties to the job description
The longer an employee works, the more likely their job will change. A person could be hired to work on an assembly line, but eventually, they might evolve into a supervisory role. When you conduct an annual review of an employee, keep in mind the current job description and make corrections to reflect their actual work.
If an employee is doing more work than others in the same role, annual performance reviews will often bring that to light. When you make a point to recognize the work they are performing, it makes a world of difference.
I’m currently training for a marathon and just finished running the longest distance I’d ever run. When I reached the last mile, I was dragging and seriously doubting that I could make it to the end. Right then, a bicyclist passed by giving me a thumbs-up and a smile of encouragement. Now, I had never met this person. In fact, I’d never seen them before in my life. However, that recognition of my work, and the encouragement to keep going put a spring back into my step so I could finish the run.
If a stranger can encourage me that much, think of how much recognition from a supervisor can encourage an employee?
A little communication and recognition during the review process can go a long way to keeping employees and supervisors on the same page, improving work product, and overall attitude in the workplace.