1. Shift your mindset from evaluator to coach.
The first step toward better performance reviews is to start with a coaching mindset. Many managers are used to acting as judges or evaluators — but this isn’t the most effective approach. If you come into a performance conversation with the mindset of a judge, your employee is going to feel like they are on trial.
Show your employee that you’re on the same team, and that you want to help them improve. Your goal should be to help employees — and ultimately your organization — win.
2. Talk regularly about performance.
When managers and employees only converse about performance once a year, there’s room for a lot of suspense and anxiety. These conversations tend to feel awkward because they are less practiced. They also tend to focus on past performance, missing the opportunity to focus on future results.
Ongoing performance conversations shift the focus forward. Managers work on improving current and future performance. They can coach, motivate, modify behaviors, adjust goals, and recognize employees in real-time. This creates a more positive experience for managers and employees. It reduces the tendency for unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty to arise.
The annual performance review still has a place — but you need to supplement it with ongoing performance conversations. It’s best practice to have these conversations throughout the year, at least quarterly. Monthly one-on-one conversations are even better!
3. Collect feedback from others.
Managers aren’t the only ones with visibility to employees’ work. In fact, a lot of employees’ everyday work might be more visible to their peers than their managers. To get a more complete picture of employee performance, ask others for feedback as part of the performance review process.
Incorporating 360 degree feedback into a review ensures it won’t be one-sided. This benefits the employee and the manager. Feedback can shed light on certain aspects of an employee’s performance that their manager might not have been aware of. It can also uncover themes and provide strong evidence for the impact of an employee’s performance.
You should share peer feedback with employees prior to their performance appraisal. This gives them the chance to self-reflect and seek clarification.
4. Share your notes before the review.
No one wants to walk into an important conversation blindly. Having to answer questions or discuss topics you’re not prepared for can be stressful. Set everyone up for a more effective performance conversation by allowing time for preparation. By sharing notes ahead of time, you both can enter the meeting on the same page and make the most of your time together. Consider including:
- Topics or events you want to discuss
- Data points you want to review
- Questions you want answered
- Anything else relevant to the employee’s performance
5. Listen intently.
This is a two-way conversation, so make sure you’re facilitating a dialogue and actually listening. Here are a few tips from HuffPost and Fast Company on being a better listener:
Listen to learn, not to be polite. Come from a place of curiosity, rather than generosity. You’re listening to understand, not to simply give someone equal talking time.
Be aware of emotions. Emotional intelligence is about understanding both your and others’ emotions. Seek to understand how the other person may be feeling, and work to keep your emotions in check if needed.
Ask questions. Part of active listening is asking more questions. Asking follow-up questions can help you understand more and dig deeper.
Repeat back what you heard. This gives you the opportunity to check you accurately understood what the other person said.
Don’t be defensive. If you’re spending your listening time preparing your response, then you’re not actually listening to the other person.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Difficult conversations can be uncomfortable. Good listeners learn to be comfortable with the discomfort.
Article by Hilary Wright – Quantum Workplace