3 Tips for Giving Better Performance Reviews
Credit: ShutterstockFeedback is critical to improving an individual's progress and creating high performance teams. And, performance management is consistently ranked as a high priority focus for most HR professionals. However, a recent survey by Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that just three in 10 HR professionals feel the review process is working for them. And it's no shock that employees tend to dread the overall review process.
So, what can managers do to improve the overall performance review process and create a win on each side of the table? According to Travis Griffith, vice president of human resources for Realty Mogul, a real estate investment startup in Los Angeles, the first thing managers need to do is stop fixating on the review system itself.
"Many managers spend far too much time worrying about the actual performance tool," he said. "That doesn't matter. Instead, they should focus on providing timely, direct feedback."
Griffith makes a good point: the tool for gathering feedback — whether it's paper or via an online platform — is just the vehicle for documenting process and creating a record. It should not be the main driver of the feedback process. Rather, it's all about consistent, authentic and timely feedback.
Here's a few suggestions from Griffith on how managers can make that happen.
1. Give consistent feedback.
Don't wait until a quarterly or annual review to speak to your direct reporters. Give timely feedback in the moment — within days, or at least within a week, of when you see the opportunity for improvement. Managers should also provide specific examples of behavior.
"There should never be any surprises," Griffith said. "And backing up your feedback with detailed examples provides clarity."
2. Focus on the main message.
A manager's job is to give feedback that allows an employee to connect the dots and improve their performance. There's a million ways to do this. One way Griffith suggests is to sandwich the negative feedback among the positive by providing three positive comments for every negative. For example:
The meeting went great today. You provided some detailed reporting; it was very helpful, and it's clear that you spent a lot of time preparing. One thing I would keep in mind for next time is to make sure you have budget numbers to support your plan.
Every manager will have his or her own style, and every employee will be unique in the way they receive the information. It's not important how you deliver feedback or what you say specifically. What's critical is that employees gain an understanding of the overall takeaway. Do they understand what they need to do to meet company goals and meet or exceed their performance expectations?
3. Talk as if it's someone you care deeply about.
Avoid accusatory tones. There's no reason to be mean or condescending.
"Speak as if it's the person you care most about in the entire world," Griffith says. "How would you like that person spoken to?"
Employees deserve to be spoken to with dignity and respect, regardless of your main message. Managers of all levels need to come to performance meetings with a level of self-awareness, prepared to deliver feedback in a respectful manner.
Performance reviews are not about meeting HR requirements or checking a box. They're about feedback and honest communication. When they're done right, employees will walk away feeling informed and empowered; teams will continue to mature and overall company performance will benefit.