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Five Ways to Eliminate the Element of Surprise from Performance Reviews

By Irelis Arias on 6/25/2015

Five Ways to Eliminate the Element of Surprise from Performance Reviews 

Unless they’re winning something or receiving a special gift, most people hate surprises. In fact, this fear of the unknown is a big reason employees dislike or even dread performance reviews. After all, no one wants to hear about their shortcomings when they felt they were performing well. When done properly, however, performance reviews don’t contain any surprises. Here are a few tips for making sure employees always know how they’re performing:

  • Offer real-time feedback.

    Performance management is a process, not a one-time event. If you regularly meet with employees and give them honest feedback along the way, you won’t have to cover any new ground in formal performance reviews.

  • Put it in writi​ng.

    When you meet with employees, have them turn in something in writing, like a weekly or monthly status report. Having employees capture details about their day-to-day work forces them to think about their performance and productivity on a regular basis. Use these reports, too, to jot down notes for easy reference later. The more objective numbers, facts or dates you have on hand, the more accurate your performance appraisal will be.

  • Conduct performance review pre-meetings.

    Once it gets close to the actual performance review, take the time to meet with employees for a brief overview of their achievements and challenges. These meetings should help set the tone for performance reviews without going into specifics. For example, if you have employees with time management issues, let them know your concern and recommend they prepare a list of ways to improve next year or the circumstances that are hindering them.

  • Schedule performance planning meetings.

    Whenever you create new goals for your employees, arrange performance planning meetings to discuss the goals and your expectations. That way, employees will know what level they need to perform at – and how, precisely, their performance will be measured throughout the year.

  • Increase the frequency of performance reviews.

    If you only conduct annual performance reviews, consider adding mid-year reviews. By meeting at the halfway point, you’re giving employees enough time to improve their performance before their annual reviews, which tend to be more thorough. If you already have biannual reviews, hold quarterly check-ins that address more details than weekly meetings.
Employee Engagement, Employee Goals, Performance Management