Performance Review Tips

November 13, 2014

Is it possible to conduct painless performance reviews? Maybe even to look forward to them?


However, the secret to achieving a “painless review” directly relates to the efforts you make before the review conversation.

The performance review  should not be a once a year conversation which includes everything and the kitchen sink.

Instead, the review should be the final discussion…the year end snapshot that comes at the end of a continuum of discussions which take place on a regular basis and during which positive outcomes, challenges, and areas for development are routinely discussed and progress assessed.

If you have these frequent conversations with your direct reports, the fear and dread of the face to face review is removed as you’ve been dialoging all along, so there will be no major surprises from either person during the discussion.

Performance Planning for the Review:

  • Ongoing communication with your direct reports is for the benefit of both the organization AND the individual
  • Partnering with your direct report helps them AND you be successful

Concrete and constructive phrases to use during your ongoing meetings:

  • Are you clear about your responsibilities and my expectations?
  • Can we agree on your key result areas (KRAs)?
  • Let’s make a plan for how we’ll achieve these together

Reinforcing feedback – focuses on what the employee has done well and is intended to repeat:

  • Reinforce the behavior and make it more likely to occur again
  • Communicate that you, the manager, recognize the employee’s “good” performance

The three most important principles to remember when expressing appreciation:

  • Describe the desired behavior in specific terms
  • Explain why the behavior is helpful
  • Actually express thanks

Corrective feedback

As a manager, you are providing feedback to achieve a specific outcome.

When things have gone off track,  pay specific attention to how you ask your questions and deliver your message as your aim is to change a negative behavior.

If the employee doesn’t hear the message because of the way you deliver it, the outcome and behavior can’t possibly change.

Remember….to be effective:

  • Describe the behavior you have noticed
  • Describe the impact of the behavior
  • Use “I”  instead of “you” messages as often as possible

Some examples…

1)      I feel….

2)      When you…

3)      Because…

4)      What I’d like….

5)      What do you think…

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About The Author

Nicole Morgenstern is the Emerging Business and Strategic Alliance Portfolio Manager at the American Management Association. In this capacity she has oversight for the identification of new strategic partners as well as relationship management of third party alliances including FranklinCovey, The Ken Blanchard Companies, and Marshall Goldsmith. She is also responsible for new product development for AMA’s core seminar business. Previously, Nicole was a Global Assistant Manager at Ernst and Young, a Partner for Education Solutions, Inc., Division Director at The Institute for International Education, Program Officer at The Trickle Up Program, and Program Officer for The International Organization for Migration.

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