Rediscovering the “Joy” in Employee Reviews

Think in threes

For many of you, it’s that time of year again: that time when you sit your employees down and tell them what you really think about them!

Yes, it’s annual review season. Some managers absolutely dread this time of year. I believe it’s because many think they only have two available pieces of feedback:

  1. "You’re doing great and I’ve got to give you a raise."
  2. "You’re terrible at your job and we need to make a change."

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Below, I’ll share five tips that will change the way you look at employee reviews. You’ll discover how to deliver reviews 1) that are meaningful to your employees, 2) will help you achieve your goals and 3) will help your team members flourish under your leadership.

And, best of all, I think these tips will help you rediscover the joy in employee reviews.

1. Before the Review: Communicate Your Expectations

Don’t make your employees wait until their reviews to discover that they’re falling short. Make sure you open lines of communication with your staff and clearly and consistently identify your expectations for their job performance. That way, your reviews will become a continuation of an ongoing conversation, rather than the start of a difficult one.

2. Use the Time to Reinforce Your Core Values

Your company’s Core Values— three to seven characteristics or behavioral attitudes that define the culture of your organization—can help you create happy, engaged employees. But you’ll only get these benefits if you infuse everything you do with your Core Values, including your employee reviews. Use your Core Values as a framework to guide your conversation. Talk to your employee about how their performance stacks up against each one. Your Core Values will give you a common measurement for success that will also help you and your team execute your company’s overall vision.

3. Don’t Just Review—Preview, Too

Of course, you’ll use your review to address your employee’s past performance. Just make sure you also take time to preview their future too. Talk about where they’re going. Set personalized goals together, and talk about how you can work as a team for the next period to get the buy-in you need to achieve your shared vision of success.

4. Turn the Tables

Give your team members the chance to review you. If you can’t take their honest feedback, you may need to grow a little more as a leader. However, if you are open to being vulnerable, there’s a good chance you’ll learn something new about your company, your performance and how you conduct business. After you receive this feedback, make time for introspection. Self-reflection is an incredibly powerful tool for celebrating our achievements, identifying our flaws and putting the stake in the ground for improvements.

5. Make the Review Process a Continuous One

Expectations, accountabilities and relationships change constantly. They don’t magically schedule themselves around review time. In many companies, daily communication around these topics is typically reactive, unproductive and sometimes non-existent. Don’t wait a full year to give feedback. Start with moving your annual reviews to quarterly or even monthly ones. Hold regularly scheduled conversations about how your employees are doing and what they should be focusing on. Make sure they know your door is open to have these conversations when they need them. This approach may seem like overkill—until their performance and your satisfaction of their results starts to skyrocket.

As the end of the year approaches, how do you feel about employee reviews? Any tips to share? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

And if you want to talk further about how to implement these strategies in your organization to get more out of your business, contact me for a 90-minute Executive Alignment Session.

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