What to do before you do the Annual Performance Review

Our philosophy at Alive & Kicking is that annual performance reviews should be a year round adventure, not a once a year event! We believe that performance should be a regular part of every one-on-one meeting with employees.

The danger of the annual performance a review is that the subject of performance is ONLY discussed once a year and leading to nasty surprises. If a manager conducts regular one-on-one meetings with employees, creates agreed plans to improve performance and follows up – then performance most likely will improve.

It’s all about follow up and accountability. The employee knows how he/she is performing and also doesn’t have to worry about any surprises coming out at the end of the year.

That said there is still a place for the annual formal performance review, so what can you do before the meeting date to set yourself and your team member up for success?

A Solid Foundation

This is all the work needed to be done before the Performance Review session commences. Begin the review of performance with a thorough consideration of what is required to create a solid foundation for the session to be effective and successful.

Things to consider

  • What would have to occur for you to consider this session a success?

  • How will you know it is effective?

  • What are the company’s procedures, processes and guidelines?

  • What do you need to do to prepare?

  • What is expected of the staff member being reviewed?

  • What is the context of the Performance Review – is this something done annually? Quarterly? Does it build on previous Reviews?

  • What are the company’s strategic themes?

  • How is the performance of the staff member being measured? What are the KPIs of the employee?

  • Be realistic with the timeframes to conduct the performance review – a half-hour to one hour is usually sufficient. Anything shorter and the staff member may feel undervalued, as if the review of their performance is not worthy of more time and consideration by management. Any longer and it can reduce effectiveness.

  • What other things do you think are important to create a solid foundation for your feedback session?

Things to do

  • Spend some quality time preparing your performance review documentation. This will depend upon what is used in your organisation. Ensure you are familiar with the layout, what the organisation expects of you in terms of completing the document before the review is to occur, as well as what information is required and to what standard once the performance review has been conducted.

  • Schedule a time for the performance review – if you are to conduct several, consider what your mental and emotional states are likely to be in each session. Allow yourself sufficient time in between review sessions to successfully complete each one to the best of your ability.

  • Allow at least 10 minutes to re-acquaint yourself with the performance review document you have created before each and every performance review session, as well as sufficient time to review any supporting documentation you may be using. This may include previous performance reviews, observation notes, statistics, or other documentation. You want to be able to speak factually about the performance of each individual.

  • If you are doing back to back reviews, ensure confidentiality is maintained by separating each person’s documentation.

  • Choose an appropriate location. It is best not to use a manager’s office as the space is often used for disciplinary actions. It is best not to use the individual’s desk because it is too easy for others to hear and the person may not feel free to speak openly. The best possible location is a conference room that is neutral.

  • Consider where you will sit in relation to the staff member being reviewed. Do your best not to sit across a table from the individual as it places a barrier between you.

  • Leave the individual a clear path – unobstructed – between the representative and the door.

  • Make certain you have all your supplies ready – blank or partially completed Performance Review Documentation, things to write with, a schedule and anything else you need for the meeting.

You are now set to hold your meeting.

Check out our other related posts containing handy tips for leaders and managers:

How to help your team prepare for the annual performance review

Five stages of a successful performance review meeting

Contact us to find out how we can help you build a culture of highly engaged, highly motivated, high performing people.

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