The Right Way to Do Employee Reviews

December 5, 2017 Rieva Lesonsky

Does any boss look forward to employee review time? For some busy small business owners, employee reviews can seem like an unnecessary formality that takes time away from all the other things they could be doing. Others dread giving reviews because they don't like confronting employees about problems with their work. Whatever the reason you hate giving reviews, the following tips can make the process easier.

  1. Give employees feedback more often. It may seem counterintuitive to suggest doing something you dislike more often, rather than less. However, holding all your feedback for the traditional "annual review" puts a lot of pressure on both you and your employees. If you give employees ongoing feedback throughout the year, they'll feel more confident because they’ll always have a sense of how well they're doing and what improvements you want to see. Start making it a practice to give employees both positive and constructive feedback whenever you notice them doing something well (or something that needs improvement).
  2. Keep records of employee performance throughout the year. Have you ever found yourself racking your brains a month before reviews to recall how your team performed all year? If you can't remember the details, your review will be based on recent performance alone, which skews the results. To create more accurate reviews, take notes on employee performance throughout the year (that ongoing feedback will help). When review time approaches, you'll be able to go over your notes to get the big picture.
  3. Get others involved. Is all the pressure on you to review each employee in your business? Reviews are inherently somewhat subjective, but you'll get a fuller picture of each employee's performance if you include their supervisors and coworkers in the review process. Start by creating criteria for reviews, such as your standards for job knowledge, communication ability, teamwork, leadership, etc. Have employees rate themselves on a numerical or letter-grade scale on each measure. Then have their supervisors/managers and coworkers do the same. Use this input to inform your own review.
  4. Use reviews as a force for good. You'll get better results from employee reviews by focusing on the positive. Use review time to discuss the employees' goals, where they see themselves going within the company, and what they need to do to get there. Even if the review is critical, try to have an open discussion with the employee about ways to improve. Whether the review is positive or negative, employees who leave with a sense of where they should go next will be more motivated.
  5. Take advantage of technology. Look for performance review tools aimed at small businesses — they can greatly simplify the process of reviewing employees and recording the outcome. Zoho People, ReviewSnap and Primalogik 360 are among the tools that help you conduct 360-degree performance reviews, jot down notes about employee performance throughout the year, and set goals for employees quickly and easily.

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