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Employee performance reviews are essential to improving productivity and morale in the workplace. Reviews should be conducted at a minimum of once per year, though today, more companies are finding it effective to provide reviews more frequently. 

Evaluations can focus on several different areas, but overall productivity, ability to meet goals and deadlines, teamwork, and interpersonal skills are typically included. 

New line managers may wonder how to prepare for an employee performance review that is productive for both the employee and the organization. The key to conducting beneficial performance reviews is to start preparing long before the evaluation date. 

Keep Employee Information Current

Don’t wait until it’s time to schedule annual evaluations to review how your employees are doing. Keep files current with notes on performance and other essential components. Give yourself time to review the files and follow up on any questions that may arise. 

You might also opt to have the employee prepare a self-evaluation that includes the highlights of their successes during the review period. This is a good way to reduce employee anxiety over the process while providing you with vital information at the same time. 

Speak with the individual’s other managers before finalizing an evaluation. Some questions you might ask include:

  • Do you feel the employee fully understands what is expected of them?
  • Does the employee stay current on company guidelines?
  • How successfully does the employee perform in a team setting?
  • What areas of improvement do you recommend?
  • How can we help this employee be more successful?

Team leaders and other supervisors can provide critical information that doesn’t appear on spreadsheets and other types of reports.

Understand That Setting Matters

In all cases, the location of a meeting sets the tone. Being called into the boss’s office can feel instantly intimidating if that’s not a place where an employee is typically welcomed. Sitting in a supervisor’s office also puts them in the “power position,” which can create discomfort for the employee. 

Private settings are necessary if uncomfortable conversations will be part of the review. Taking the employee out for a cup of coffee may be ideal for reviews that focus on goal setting or positive recognition. 

However, consistency is the most important factor. Taking some employees out for a cup of coffee and others into your office sets a bad precedent and smacks of favoritism. Wherever you decide to conduct performance reviews, make sure to conduct all of them in the same location. 

Encourage Dialogue

Performance reviews shouldn’t be one-sided. Ask employees questions that require more than one- or two-word answers. Encourage them to be part of the goal-setting process. Ask meaningful questions, such as, “Which of your skills is not being fully utilized in your position?” or “What is a project you would like to see the company take on?” 

An open dialogue will encourage the employee to set their own goals and will make constructive criticism more palatable. 

Make sure to communicate with your employees between reviews. Check in regularly and offer words of encouragement. Seeing that you are approachable helps dispel evaluation anxiety and makes the experience more productive for everyone. 

Offer Actionable Steps to Improvement

In most cases, your employee wants to do a good job and enjoy the benefits that come with successful performance. If they fall short, work with them to create a clear improvement plan. Telling someone they need to “do better” has no value if the steps aren’t clear. An action plan needs to be measurable. 

Call the Sul Lee Law Firm if You Still Have Questions on How to Prepare for an Employee Performance Review

The attorneys at Sul Lee Law Firm in Dallas, TX, have experience in business and employment law. We offer legal support for employers in a variety of industries. Call Sul Lee Law Firm to learn how we can help your business thrive.