Remember when we got our report cards when we were children? I remember dreading them yet also being hopeful that mine would be abnormally positive and optimistic about my performance in class.
Our report cards gave us a grade for each subject, followed by a comment from the teacher. While my marks were average, the comments were what I looked forward to, hoping the teacher would give me a unique comment rather than the standard, “If Rhonda talked less in class and listened more, she would be a better student.”
As an adult, I know teachers don’t generally enjoy preparing report cards. They have pre-formatted comments to put in the comment section, and they rarely say very much.
Now that we are adults, we still have our “report cards” in the format of performance evaluations at work. If you are a manager, you likely feel the same way teachers do; you dread preparing them.
But knowing how to create effective and motivational performance reviews is an essential part of being a manager.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”MQj43″ via=”yes” ]Knowing how to create effective and motivational performance reviews is an essential part of being a manager.[/ctt]
Here are some do’s and don’ts for performance evaluations:
– Provide regular and informative feedback in addition to the scheduled performance reviews. Don’t wait until the annual or semi-annual performance review to let your team know how things are going, especially if the review isn’t positive.
A survey by Business News Daily stated that over 90 percent of respondents want to receive feedback more than once every 12 months. If you provide feedback more frequently, no one will be blindsided by what you have to say. It also allows them to work on improvements immediately. Good or bad, give all your team regular and informal feedback.
– Be honest with them. Honesty doesn’t mean that you need to be brutal or unkind. If an issue is worth addressing, bring it up. Tiptoeing around the subject isn’t effective and won’t create any change.
My teachers were very clear that my chatter was the problem as opposed to my study habits or test scores. And while the comment on my report card wasn’t what I wanted to hear, it was honest feedback.
– Ensure your performance evaluations are delivered in person. I never had the opportunity to discuss my report cards with teachers. While we had parent-teacher interviews, we didn’t have student-teacher interviews. I didn’t hear the feedback directly nor have the opportunity to discuss anything I disagreed with either.
The written portion of the evaluation should be brief, so you can have a more detailed face-to-face conversation. Naturally, it should be in a private location, not a public place like a coffee shop. Don’t deliver the written evaluation with the offer to discuss it. Rarely will the employee want to discuss it, as everyone is uncomfortable. Avoidance is easier. Make sure you deliver it face-to-face.
– Use examples when discussing positive and negative situations. This will require you to keep notes throughout the year. If you need to point out where your employee is missing the mark, find specific examples instead of vague references.
– End on a positive note. Ensure that your performance review has positive reinforcement, constructive feedback, and encouragement. You don’t want them to feel they’ve been reprimanded (especially if they have no idea that things aren’t going well).
End by giving motivation and encouragement.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”aeCDu” via=”yes” ]End performance reviews by giving motivation and encouragement[/ctt]
– Give false positivity. Often, managers give inaccurate performance evaluations because they don’t know how to provide corrective feedback. They may be afraid of retribution (the employee running to the union), the employee quitting (and they don’t have the time to replace them), or they are in a key role in the organization.
By telling the employee everything is fine or there are no issues, you are not setting them up for greater success. Imagine you getting to the end of a school year to find out that you weren’t earning the credit you expected. You would want to know if your grades weren’t high enough before the end of the semester. Work is the same; don’t give all positive feedback when change is needed.
– Fail to define objectives and expectations. Your employee needs to know what is expected of them so they can work towards it. Set goals using the SMART format (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound). Describe exactly what you’re looking for and how you will assess their performance.
– Avoid the hard facts. Don’t give unfounded feedback without facts. If you are telling your employee that they need to work on their conflict resolution skills, you must provide an example of what they said/did that wasn’t effective. The same is true when giving positive feedback. Don’t tell them they manage their time well; give examples. We all know the cardinal rule of behavior: What gets rewarded gets repeated.
A well-intentioned but badly-executed performance review isn’t the goal. We want to not only deliver the review with less stress; we ultimately want better results.
My comments from my report cards never changed over the years. It was a perfect example of good intention by the teacher but poor execution due to the process. I’m sure my teachers were frustrated. I never stopped my chatter, and I know I was never motivated to change, either.