Many people feel uneasy when it’s time for annual performance reviews. It’s understandable…they can be uncomfortable and even a precursor to layoffs. But they are also a part of your company’s culture of feedback. When it’s time to conduct performance reviews, draw on these five tips:
1. Understand the purpose
Why do performance reviews matter? They provide a scheduled opportunity for leaders take a close look at employees’ performance. This time can give you a better understanding of your direct reports and how to guide them in their career journeys. While these (typically yearly) check ins are important, they shouldn’t be your only time set aside for feedback.
2. Form a perpetual feedback loop
There should always be feedback flowing to and from your employees. They shouldn’t be hearing they are “off course” for the first time during a performance review conversation. Bring this up in a timely manner so you can help them course correct sooner rather than later. Hoarding feedback and saving it for this time is not efficient or sustainable. Create a feedback loop that is frequent and perpetually moving. That means providing feedback as a leader and asking them to give it in return. Utilize one-on-one meetings, pulse surveys, etc.
3. Cultivate psychological safety
Make sure employees feel safe and connected at your organization. If they feel emotionally safe, they are much more likely to be at ease leading up to and during the conversation. It will also help soften the blow when it comes time to receive to any type of negative or constructive feedback. Employees will know they are not being personally attacked. Rather, they are more likely to view it as a path to help them improve and grow.
4. Turn inward for reflection
To give effective performance reviews, it’s important to have awareness. Leaders should be both self-aware and aware of their teams’ capabilities and potential. If you don’t understand your employees’ capabilities, you may have unrealistic expectations during reviews. If you can’t see their potential, you may fail to see opportunities for growth. Remember that you don’t have visibility into every aspect of their work so collect peer-to-peer feedback. Then add that to the full employee picture you’re reflecting on.
5. Tip the scale towards the positive
When it comes to balance, it’s not an equally balanced scale at all. The positive feedback you give should far outweigh any of the negative. In fact, research suggests the ideal ratio is about 5.6 to 1. That means nearly six positive comments for every one negative comment. This ratio is reflected in the habits of the highest performing teams. So make a habit out of day-to-day recognition with an employee engagement platform.
When you create a culture of feedback, everyone benefits. Employees are able to optimize their performance and grow. When your people grow, your organization grows. So lean into developing a perpetual (and positive) loop of feedback!