Onwards & upwards | Want to get better at performance reviews? Here's how

Want to get better at performance reviews? Here's how
Want to get better at performance reviews? Here's how

Performance reviews or performance appraisals are a typical way for employers and HR to measure how an employee is performing over a particular period of time.

For employees, it serves as a good opportunity to get feedback about how they are doing, while it gives employers the chance to talk about goal-setting for future performance.

What are performance reviews?

The CIPD explained on its website that the purpose of these reviews is “to identify areas for growth and improvement and inform suitable development plans; or inform administrative decisions on contractual aspects of employment (such as pay, bonuses, promotions or redundancy)”.

While performance reviews can be a good way to check in on employee progress, and come up with necessary development plans to support employee growth, “the value of annual reviews has increasingly been challenged in recent years in favour of more regular conversations, but even so, performance appraisal remains a crucial aspect of the performance management cycle,” according to the CIPD. While effective performance management is key to both staff and the business, data has suggested that there could be room for improvement.

For example, TruQu statistics revealed that 77% of employees and 94% of HR managers think that traditional performance reviews are outdated and need to be reviewed, while separate Gartner data found that 59% of employees think that the traditional performance review has “no impact” on their personal performance. There also appears to be an appetite for more frequent check-ins, with data from TruQu finding that 76% of staff want at least monthly performance reviews and feedback that they can action.

With many employees jumping ships amid the Great Resignation’, it's imperative that line managers and HR ensure that employees have a clear route to progression – particularly with IRIS Software Group data finding that 68% of staff say that they are facing delayed career growth due to a lack of support.

How to conduct more effective performance reviews

So, how can they conduct more effective performance reviews? HR Grapevine spoke to the experts below to find out more.

Be clear on about the agenda

From the outset, line managers and HR should be clear with what they want to talk about. Have your own feedback to give them, but also ask employees for their highlights to promote a two-way discussion. Jo Ayoubi, CEO, Track 360 told HR Grapevine: “Make sure you have good feedback as well as any points for development [to take to the performance review]. Ask them for the stand-out parts of their performance, and where they think they could be even better.

“Incorporate feedback from other sources to back up what you're going to talk about. The reviewee should have the same data, so the feedback messages are clear (even though the feedback is provided anonymously). If one person gives me a low rating, that may or may not be relevant. But if all my team give me a low rating for a particular area, such as delegating effectively, then I have to take notice. If you do use 360 feedbacks in this way, make sure you pick up the consistent positive ratings and comments too, as people will tend to focus on the negative,” Ayoubi added.

Effective conversations

Anna Rasmussen, Founder and CEO at OpenBlend told HR Grapevine that a core aspect of effective performance reviews “lies in enabling broad and effective manager-employee conversations”. She continued: “These one-to-ones should extend beyond objective-setting and ratings to cover a wide breadth of content that includes wellbeing, motivation, and development.

“It is through these two-way conversations that we provide the employee with an opportunity to express what they need and want in order to stay well, remain motivated, and perform – and equally, it's how we enable managers to better understand their employees on an individual level,” Rasmussen added. If this is done correctly, then this can be mutually beneficial for staff and the business; employees will feel that their needs are satisfied and employers will likely get better performance and productivity in return.

‘Feed forward’

While performance reviews are there to look at an employees’ recent performance, this time can also be used to look at future action points that can help with achieving goals. Ayoubi explained: “Many performance reviews now use the idea of 'feed forward' as well as feedback. This means taking the feedback discussion into future actions and goals, focussing on what can be achieved."

She draws on her own experience of what they do at Track 360. “We use 'Development Action Points' (DAPs) which are ideas for making more of your strengths and developing where your need to – DAPs are short, action-based and relevant to the individual's role and needs. If the reviewee leaves the performance review feeling there is potential for improvement and they are in control, this will be a positive outcome,” Ayoubi added.

Of course, measuring performance and ensuring that staff feel supported throughout their tenure is beneficial for multiple reasons - which is why its so crucial that HR and line managers get it right.

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