“It’s Time for Your Employee Performance Review.”

For many, there’s no more dreaded sentence in the English language. Many managers see performance appraisals as nothing more than additional busywork mandated by human resources. And employees have also expressed frustration with the exercise, with many observing that the meeting is nothing more than rehashing old information without true application to the employee’s long-term goals.

The truth is that employee appraisals can serve as a valued tool-provided that this process is viewed as an opportunity for meaningful dialogue between management and labor. Unfortunately, too few organizations utilize this important time effectively. Which is why many are left questioning its value.

The key on how to make this time work for your company lies in how you communicate with your employees in the months prior to this dreaded task. Rather than seeing this as an annual event, true performance management be a free-flowing process that last the entire years

The Secret? Employee Development

Every successful performance management campaign must start with open conversation regarding the employee’s place within the company on day one. More than just a review of the organizational structure, this process should be defined by setting objectives for professional development.

The discussion should not only cover position expectations, but identifying any needs that must be met by management for the worker to be effective at their job. For example, a customer service representative may inquire about receiving additional product knowledge training to address client concerns. Or a sales representative may inquire about sales training to better assess the needs of potential buyers.

No matter what is agreed upon, regular follow-up is an important step to ensure that the objectives are met. How frequently this happens is entirely up to you. The important takeaway for that you set a means for constant feedback. Doing so will help identify potential poorly performing workers sooner. But it also gives you a chance to retain and promote those who show promise.

Five Key Rules for Transforming Your Performance Appraisal

1. Set clear guidelines for expectations

It’s vital for managers to communicate clearly with staff. This applies not only of your expectations but that of your workers. This should be the cornerstone of any performance management program as it allows both parties to talk about their needs as it relates to your company’s bottom line.

Create an opportunity for open communication with your staff and agree to expectations for work performance.

2. Create regular schedule for feedback

Again, a successful appraisal should happen more than once a year. The frequency may differ depending on the nature of the position. However, to be truly effective it needs to happen at least quarterly.These check-ins should not only cover the status of any preset goals, but also be an opportunity to review if additional assistance is needed to meet them.

It doesn’t need to be a formal employee evaluation for these check-ins. Instead, create an opportunity for open discussion about the employee’s performance and how you can support them as their manager.

3. Be flexible

As the needs of the company changes, so should that of the management and employees. Be willing to create new goals as the situation warrants.This flexibility should not only apply to change in company needs, but also that of individual employee strengths. As these skill set presents themselves, be prepared to establish new goals that allow the employee to nurture them.

A flexible performance management plan allows quick adjustments as necessary to meet your employee’s goals and to adjust when poor performance occurs.

4. Be Willing to Intervene

Regular feedback is also an excellent tool to identify early on when a staff member is struggling with their given responsibilities. When this occurs, you must be willing to discuss your concerns with the individual as well as work to create an action plan to correct the issue.

Quick corrective action reduces long-term problems and helps identify ways to help employees win.

5. Be Willing to Encourage

Too often employees fear feedback because it can be seen as a negative experience. Voicing your willingness to offer support your team’s desire for improvement can be a powerful way to counter that concern and lead to a better workplace.

Performance management isn’t something you do only once a year, it is an on-going system to get the most out of your employees and help them with long-term career development.

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