Letting Employees In: Transparency in the Performance Review

The review process needs to be transparent if employees are expected to take it seriously. The standards should be clear going in, and the reviewer needs to be honest with the person being inspected. It’s far too easy for employees to feel this isn’t the case. A worker will likely miss the point if he or she walks away with a number or letter score without understanding what was evaluated and why it’s important.

If your review process is invisible, your employees are unlikely to trust your honesty and goodwill. Even employees who are doing well may be dissatisfied. If they don’t understand what they did to get a good review, they won’t know if they can continue to make the grade.

A Spirit of Transparency

To promote transparency, tell your employees what categories they’re going to be measured on. When you discuss these dimensions, define them. Just because you think what a category means is obvious doesn’t mean your employees will. Clarity is key. When you tell your employees what categories you’re evaluating, include the rating scale, as well. Give examples of what each performance level means. This explains what you expect from your employees and allows them to better understand their ratings. Practice the following for the best results:

  • Give examples. In the evaluation itself, use examples from the employees’ work to explain why they received a particular rating. Acknowledge their contributions, even if the overall rating is lower. Examples increase the transparency of the process and ensure its fairness. When you justify an assessment, even to yourself, it improves the rating’s accuracy.
  • Be accountable. Just as you have to maintain transparency in your employees’ ratings, ensure you hold yourself to the same standards. Managers are expected to exemplify the company’s mores and culture. Not holding yourself to the same standards makes the entire process arbitrary.
  • Ask and answer questions. When you have a performance assessment, be prepared for questions. Answering them will help keep the process appropriately transparent. Unanswered inquiries obscure the process, and not having responses or explanations prepared undermines the value of the review process. Always ask the reviewee if there is anything he or she wants to know before ending a performance assessment.

Transparency isn’t unidirectional; expect your employees to be honest and open, as well. If you have questions for your workers, ask. Avoid “why” questions, which can sound accusatory, but appropriate queries should always be raised. These help you perform your job better and demonstrate genuine concern. No matter who’s asking, the process strengthens your business; a question can highlight weaknesses in your company’s current business methods, and posing them early on can unearth certain issues before they become a bigger problem.

Consistency and Clarity

Making your review practices transparent bolsters your business’ cohesion. With the impact performance reviews can have on a person’s future prospects, employees want to know how their output is assessed. Formulating performance reviews transparently builds trust, which no enterprise can survive without. Employ clear appraisals in your business. Start by signing up for our performance review creation tool.

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