How to Conduct Performance Reviews in 2020

As we continue to navigate the ongoing implications of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important to continue having regular conversations about performance. This helps individuals and organizations remain productive and moving forward through this challenging time.

In the past few months, many employees have adopted new ways of working. Some companies continue to work from home, while others have learned to adapt to new policies and procedures in response to the pandemic.

Through this, you may be left wondering if you should give your employees an annual performance review this year. The answer is yes.

Performance reviews are a vital part of success. Performance reviews are an opportunity to give your team the information they need to get to the next level or to know they’re not meeting expectations. 

Often, performance reviews are seen as a time to discuss poor performance, but positive feedback is just as important. Many employees are looking for feedback regularly, and 69% say they would work harder if they felt recognized.

Performance reviews offer an opportunity to provide feedback, and help your employees realign their objectives with the company mission. Effective performance management aligns supervisors and employees’ efforts with departmental and company goals, promotes consistency and motivates all employees to perform at their best.

This article will outline why performance meetings are essential, especially now, and share an easy-to-use guide for conducting a review with your team members.

Performance Meetings

Performance meetings support an individual’s career and professional development. 

With so much left unknown, performance meetings can be a retention play: having clear feedback will help your top performers thrive. These meetings also help to get poor performers back on track.  While some companies only conduct reviews annually, if you can think of performance in terms of trajectory, it makes sense to have several performance meetings during a year. This can ensure small performance problems don’t manifest into larger problems, requiring much larger course corrections.

Performance meetings impact your organization by providing recognition of performance, a benchmark for measuring performance, and finally, as a feedback loop to drive or improve performance.  If individuals aren’t aware of how they are doing, they won’t know if they have areas to continue or improve. Having a comprehensive review program allows for more transparency, and the employees know where they stand.

High impact meetings can cause enough value to your employees that you can leverage continuous growth from a distance. You can also cause a turnaround performance, which is a lot better than going and finding someone else better to do the job, which will likely cost you more in the long run.

Performance Meetings Help Companies Thrive

Performance meetings allow you to assess each individual’s current performance, ensuring the company is on track. It provides a chance to slow down and ensure both your employees and the company are on schedule to meet their goals. Performance meetings can highlight good performance and provide your employees with feedback from peers. And its an opportunity for you to share ideas, set benchmarks, and create an action plan for the future. 

The performance meeting has three primary outcomes: accountability, areas to both continue and to improve, and future goals.

1) Accountability

The key to accountability is to measure actual performance versus the original goals agreed upon by both you and your employee. This process of measurement helps to hold the employee accountable for their performance. During this phase, you will want to address both good and poor performance. In addition to their quantitative goals, key areas of performance can include skill development, employee behavior, and overall attitude. If the employee is a manager, they may also have a performance focus around others’ development.

2) Areas to Continue & Areas to Improve

Once you have benchmarked performance, you can identify the employee’s strengths and weaknesses.

Phrased as areas to continue performance and areas to improve performance, this is a key element of the meeting as it bridges the past performance to the future goals and overall development.

3) Alignment Towards Future Direction

As the meeting looks toward future performance, the meeting shifts focus on aligning both the organization’s future needs and the individual. By aligning future direction, performance aims to help achieve the company’s goals while positioning the individual to succeed both personally and professionally.

How to conduct a performance review

The key to a performance meeting is preparation. If you’re conducting an annual review, you should be reflecting on what the individual did in the last year, not in the past few weeks. You will want to focus on highs or lows in performance, contributions, skills, challenges. Goals versus actual performance is key to the meeting. If the individual has been working with you for some time, you want a system or dashboard to track results and performance.

Schedule regular performance reviews (monthly or quarterly) and include a presentation of key performance measures for the individual. Baselines of historical performance, current data, and projected trends are presented for each goal or critical success factor. Key successes are shared, as well as required interventions and actions to overcome barriers. Working together, you and your employee develop action plans to improve performance: identify steps to reach objectives; the individual is assigned responsibility for each phase; establish target completion dates for each step and communicate expected results.

Performance Review Process

1) Employee Prep(desired outcomes, self-appraisal)
2) Supervisor Prep(Results, issues & goals of the organization)
3) Meeting
– Review the past
– Identify areas to improve or to continue
– Discuss future goals, professional business development,
and career trajectory
– Set clear next steps and schedule appropriate follow-up

Often, people fail to set clear follow-up steps. The risk with these meetings is that you provide feedback, agree, and schedule the next steps but fail to follow up. This can damage the relationship. Your employees need regular feedback, and as the leader, it is up to you to set accountability and follow-up.

Whether you’re just starting to grow, or you’ve had a large team for years, it is never too late to start working on your culture. This post provides actionable tips on how small businesses can begin implementing this framework.

If you need more help with your leadership and don’t know where to start, you don’t have to go alone. Schedule a free two-hour session to dig into your business and develop a plan.

While some companies only conduct reviews annually, if you can think of performance in terms of trajectory, it makes sense to have several performance meetings during a year. This can ensure small performance problems don’t manifest into larger problems, requiring much larger course corrections.