There are many ways to conduct reviews, but the most successful include follow-ups. These can feature several items, such as news on performance or progress on short-term goals. Whatever they entail, companies can rely on them to track improvement. Consider these reasons why follow-ups are so important:

  • Augment primary assessments. Follow-up reviews check that advice given in the main evaluation has been followed. This isn’t just monitoring employees; it’s a matter of ensuring the situation has been resolved. If the solution you and the employee discussed isn’t working, try something new.
  • End on a positive note. Reviews are often seen as stressful or negative, so follow-up to ensure the positives aren’t lost. This recognition can contribute to improved behavior.
  • Discuss new business policies before the next formal evaluation. If you know a change in your company’s policy is going to impact how your employees perform their jobs, schedule follow-up performance reviews. Use these to assess the hypothetical impact before the update take place, and follow up again to see how your employees are handling the changes.
  • Address personal issues when they arise. If an employee experiences a life-changing event, consider a mid-year performance assessment to help him or her rebalance work and home. Be careful, though; you don’t want to seem like you’re questioning the employee’s ability to perform.
  • Leave room to negotiate. Follow-ups leave plenty of space between the primary review and salary negotiations. When these are held together, information tends to fall through the cracks. Follow up to remind the employee about what you discussed during the performance review.

How to Conduct a Follow-Up

  • Get the timing right. Follow-ups are particularly successful when performance reviews are held mid-year, separate from annual salary negotiations. Each meeting has a specific purpose, but a follow-up can be held during the salary discussion. This can be a wonderful opportunity to check the progress on any plans you and your employee made.
  • Realign employee goals if necessary. While performance reviews focus on the past and present of an employee’s performance, follow-ups focus on the future. During the performance assessment, you may have set some goals with or for your employees. The follow-up is a time to measure the progress toward those goals. It gives you a chance to realign your employee’s duties and milestones on the way to reaching the goal. Use this time to recognize and fine-tune strengths and address issues that may have surfaced since the evaluation.
  • Be a coach, not a dictator. You’re a role model and a mentor to your employees. Your feedback shouldn’t stop with an assessment and a follow-up. Regularly recognize your employees for their achievements and offer them real advice to improve their efforts. The difference between official reviews and ongoing coaching is that the latter should be more casual and less structured.

When scheduling a follow-up, emulate similar procedures as you would during a primary performance assessment. Strive for a more relaxed atmosphere, and allow your employees to voice their concerns privately. This review is about helping your employees out, so let them drive the discussion once the main points have been covered. Learn how to make the most of this opportunity with carefully crafted self evaluation questions.