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What to include in an employee performance review
Blog //08-11-2023

What to include in an employee performance review

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

What are employee performance reviews?

Performance evaluations, or employee reviews, are systematic assessments of an employee's work over a certain period. They involve a written review that gauges performance against established goals and KPIs, aiming to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and chart pathways for career growth. These evaluations are key to talent management, typically conducted annually or bi-annually.

For employees, these reviews provide invaluable feedback on their efficiency and contribution to the company, highlighting areas of excellence and where additional training could be beneficial. For employers, these evaluations offer insights into each employee's abilities, aiding informed decisions regarding promotions, pay rises, and career advancement. Furthermore, they foster open communication between staff and management, promoting a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

According to the Advanced Trends Report 2023, the foremost challenge faced by organisations is attracting and retaining top talent. Having a systematic and effective review system helps organisations recognise and reward the employees who are performing to the optimum level, which in turn makes the employee feel valued and lowers attrition.

How to prepare for employee performance reviews

Employee performance reviews play a pivotal role in an organisation's talent management approach. Effective communication offers valuable insights into an employee's abilities, work efficiency, and overall input to the company's success. A crucial aspect of preparing for these reviews is embracing a data-driven approach. This ensures that evaluations are unbiased, objective, and based on concrete evidence.

Check their current job description

A good starting point for preparing for an employee performance review is to revisit the employee's current job description. The description outlines the key responsibilities and expectations associated with the role, providing a useful benchmark against which performance can be assessed. It also helps identify any discrepancies between what the role was initially designed to achieve and what it has evolved into overtime, which may need to be addressed during the review.

Review past data on performance

Performance data forms the backbone of a data-led performance review. Prior to the review, managers should collect and analyse relevant data on the employee's performance. This might include metrics related to productivity, quality of work, project completion, customer satisfaction, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). Past performance reviews can also provide valuable context and insight into the employee's growth and development over time.

 Discuss your objectives with employees

It's absolutely essential that the employee is brought into the fold during the process. Before the review, take time to sit down and discuss the objectives you have in mind for the session. This discussion could encompass highlighting specific aspects of their performance you'll be concentrating on, the information you'll be using to assess their work, and what you hope to achieve. This approach sets the tone for a constructive dialogue, ensuring the employee feels prepared, involved, and invested in the process.

What to discuss in a performance review

A performance review should be a collaborative dialogue between the manager and the employee. It's essential that the employee actively participates in their own review and the discussion about opportunities for growth. This ensures that the plans agreed upon are beneficial for both parties and align with the organisation's goals as well as the employee's career ambitions.

During the performance review, begin by discussing the employee's strengths. Highlight specific instances where they have excelled and how their contributions have positively impacted the team or the company as a whole. This not only validates their efforts but also boosts their morale and motivation.

Next, objectively address areas that need improvement. Use data to support your feedback and provide concrete examples to avoid ambiguity. Remember, the aim is not to criticise, but to help the employee understand where they can enhance their performance. Discuss potential solutions and offer support to help them improve.

Talk about the employee's career goals and aspirations. Understand what they want to achieve professionally and discuss how these goals align with the company's objectives. This discussion can help identify new skills the employee may need to develop or additional responsibilities they may want to take on.

Finally, involve the employee in setting their performance objectives for the next review period. The goals set out should adhere to the SMART criteria - they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By actively involving the employee in this goal-setting process, you help foster a sense of responsibility and ownership in them towards their performance. This is likely to increase their dedication and commitment to reach these objectives.

Remember, a successful performance review is about open dialogue, constructive feedback, and mutual agreement on the path forward. By involving the employee in their review and development opportunities, you foster a culture of continuous learning and growth. 

Performance review examples for employees

Performance reviews are integral to employee development, and crafting effective review phrases is crucial to this process. These reviews should offer constructive feedback, highlight strengths and identify areas for improvement. For instance, a review might note an employee's exceptional communication skills or their dependability in meeting deadlines. It could also point out the need for better time management or increased initiative.

Phrases such as "consistently outdone expectations", "strives to complete all tasks on time" or "produces excellent results" are examples of positive feedback. Conversely, statements like "needs to improve time management skills" or "could display more initiative in tasks" offer constructive criticism. Remember, the goal is to motivate, inspire, and encourage employees towards better performance.

What not to write in a performance review

Here are some guidelines on what not to write in a performance review:

Don’t mention demographics

The quality of work is solely dependent on the performance of the employee and characteristics such as age, race, gender, marital status seldom bears any relevance on the output.

For instance, rather than saying "You're doing well for someone your age," say "Your performance has been excellent, particularly in these areas..."

Be careful about language

Avoid referencing hearsay feedback - comments that are not based on your direct observations or concrete examples. This can undermine your credibility and the fairness of the review.

Avoid vague statements

Feedback should be specific and actionable. Avoid generic comments such as "good job". Instead, provide clear examples of what the employee did well and areas they could improve.

Remember, a performance review is a tool for growth and improvement, rather than a platform for criticism or blame. It should be a balanced discussion, highlighting both strengths and areas for improvement, and should always be rooted in fairness and objectivity. 

What’s the future like for employee performance reviews? 

In recent years, the performance review systems available in the market across the world have come under scrutiny. Several organisations are re-evaluating their feedback strategy  and are moving towards a more dynamic and interactive approach.

There is a growing belief that feedback and performance management systems overall need to become a regular two-way conversation between the managers and the employees and not a once-a-year discussion.

The future of employee performance reviews is set to change remarkably, evolving in tandem with the transformation of the workplace. This evolution will necessitate companies to adopt new strategies for assessment and improvement. An increasingly popular trend is the emphasis on continuous 1:1 feedback, positioning managers as trusted mentors.

Moreover, the focus will be on fostering open discussions about personal goals between employees and their managers. The ultimate aim of these changes is to improve individual and team performance in alignment with organisational objectives.

The evolution of performance reviews

Traditional performance appraisals, often based on numerical ratings, have been found to demotivate employees and can even undermine their performance. As such, many forward-thinking organisations are moving away from this model. Instead, they're adopting more dynamic, flexible, and empathetic approaches, which include project-based performance reviews and pay decisions.

This new era of performance management will depend on open discussions about personal goals between managers and employees. The focus is shifting towards continuous feedback and development, tailored to the individual needs and aspirations of each employee.

The role of technology in performance management 

Looking ahead, technology will be a key factor in moulding the procedures of performance management.

Predictive data analytics can highlight areas of strength and areas needing improvement, enabling managers to make informed decisions and provide targeted feedback. Furthermore, technology facilitates continuous learning and development through online training platforms, enhancing skill sets and boosting productivity.

Additionally, it fosters better communication and collaboration, streamlining the feedback process and promoting a culture of continuous improvement. Thus, technology is transforming the landscape of performance management, driving efficiency, and effectiveness in organisations.

A software with performance management capabilities can enable real-time feedback, goal setting, progress tracking, rendering the entire review cycle to become more efficient and effective.

How Advanced can help you with performance reviews

Advanced Clear Review, an innovative cloud-based platform supporting continuous performance management, enables regular check-ins and goal setting. By providing a space for ongoing dialogue, it ensures that performance management is an integral part of daily work life, rather than an annual event. To find out more about our premiere performance management system, get in touch with our team today.

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