1. Increase your performance review frequency-

Your employee works hard putting in 8 hours a day for a whole year and he gets only onereview? Well that’s not fair. That is why it is advisable for organizations to do at least two performance reviews in a year, more if possible.

All employees need performance feedback frequently to stay on course. It’s just how people are wired. When managers wait a whole year or sometimes more than that to do performance reviews, it is a huge mistake on the managers part.

Doing performance reviews more often makes the employees feel that you are paying attention to them. Good managers do performance corrections on a consistent basis.

Since rewards are always tied to performance, it is advisable for managers to document their employee’s behavior and leave a paper trail throughout the year. You can refer back to these reports when you hold the official annual discussion. 

When meeting for the official annual performance review, if it is the first time that the manager expresses his dissatisfaction in his employees work, then it is the fault of the manager himself. There should not be any surprises in that meeting. Both parties should know full well what is going to happen even before the meeting. The main objective of this meeting is to sum up the previous reviews and plan ahead for the future.

You may think that it is too much hard work to hold multiple reviews in a year, technology has eased this process and it allows you to give feedback immediately as the behavior is occurring.

2. Separate your review into two parts

Have you ever had a meeting where you sat down to discuss the budget and ended up having a debate about customer experience. This can be counter-productive as the time spent is not spent focused on a single topic and therefore that particular topic does not get solved. This is kind of how performance appraisal meetings go. If you try to cram in employee review, feedback, salary raise all into one meeting it will not be very productive. 

Separate the review of your employee’s professional development from the review about her pay increase. One of the primary objectives of performance appraisal is the growth of the company and thus personal growth of the employee. If you are talking about her promotion or her raise she will not be focused on discussing her performance honestly, rather she might get defensive and close up. Have a conversation with her solely concentrating on the issues she might be facing and how you both can work together to solve them. Don’t bring up the issue of results or compensations. 

It can be difficult to focus on a constructive conversation when the employee is only focused on her salary increase. The compensation conversation should not override the feedback and coaching sessions that should be happening during the performance review process.

Keeping the two reviews separate does not allow the question of ‘lousy raise or no raise’ to hang over the discussion. Even if you are doing your performance appraisal once a year, have the discussion about her raise about a week later than the performance review. But don’t put a too much gap between the performance review and the raise (say six months). The employee may get frustrated if she has to wait so long for the raise she has been promised.

Below are several such time cycles which most companies use:

1) Pay increase on the joining date or the date of the last promotion with a mass review done annually. This is helpful for the company as it helps them plan their merit system and their budget.

2) Merit increase every six months (twice annually).

3) Pay increase every year and no merit increase but a performance review is required every twelve months.

3. Be honest

It is only natural for people to try to avoid confrontations as much as possible. We mean well by it, trying to preserve the integrity of our friends and colleagues and instead, passive aggressively try to tell them they are not doing their job well.

However dishonesty can lead to a lot of problems later. Imagine the example below.

A new HR manager comes in and finds that an employee who has been with the company for 25 years is under-performing. You feel bad bringing it to his attention because you do not want to mess up your impression with the other employees. This goes on and soon other employees start slacking off thinking that if the first guy can get away with it, so can they. The output of the company falls and soon they have to lay someone off.

Now consider the alternative. Sit down with the employee and tell him that according to his time log he has been coming late almost every day and leaving early. Tell him he is producing half the work of his colleagues and this has been declining year on year. Now this may come as a shock to him but at least it will put a stop to his behavior.

Another problem is that managers often inflate their employee’s performance to avoid confrontation from higher ups. However this neither solves the problem, rather allows it to linger on without any repercussions. Employees must be made aware of their shortcoming or misalignment with company goals. Sweeping it under the rug is not a solution.

I would also like to add that honesty should not be limited to you; it should also apply for your employees as well. It is up to you to create an environment where an employee can be honest with you. For example, if someone says they are bad at delegation set her up for some delegation training. This is an amazing opportunity for employees to grow.

4. Performance appraisal starts with the employee

Every appraisal cycle should start off with a self-appraisal by the employee. First of all, it makes the employee feel appreciated as her opinions are taken into account. It gives her ownership of her appraisal and helps improve the outcome of this exercise. This is also a very important opportunity for you to engage your employee and make them feel part of the problem solving.

Managers often have a different perspective than the employee. Even the managers that work closely with their teams may not know about the problems an employee is facing.

Self appraisal gives that employee a platform to voice her own opinion.

But filling up the form does not complete the appraisal process. Take time to go through what she has to say. Then have a problem solving session where she can clearly understand how she can perform better.

For more information, visit www.grosum.com