How Effective Are Your Annual Performance Reviews?

Many companies have annual performance reviews (sometimes called appraisals) as part of their performance management process. Many managers dread appraisal time, yet the purpose of a performance review is to act as a tool for the line manager, helping them help their team, individually and collectively, to be the best that they can possibly be.

Annual performance reviews, like any effective meeting, need to be prepared for. If you are a manager responsible for holding appraisals with your staff make sure you put aside enough time before the meeting to prepare yourself.

Here are ten important questions that we suggest you ask yourself that will help you in your preparation for a formal performance review meeting with your team members:

1. How often have you discussed performance with each team member since their last annual appraisal meeting? Performance needs to be discussed regularly. The formal performance review should hold no surprises for your employee on their level of performance.

2. How regularly have you given them positive feedback or recognition? Regular positive feedback is like a tonic – it boosts good performance.

3. How much coaching have you done? Coaching is a core skill for managers and leaders. Learning to effectively coach your people helps them to give of their best throughout the year, and so leads to “easier” formal reviews

4. What new opportunities has this person been given since their last appraisal meeting? It can get very difficult to review the same job again and again if there has been no change in what the person has been asked to do or achieve.

5. Have you already raised any performance shortcomings that need to be addressed? Corrective feedback also acts like a tonic, preventing poor performance from becoming a big problem. Also see point 1 … remember there should be no surprises!

6. Have you made clear the link between performance and behaviour expectations and the objectives of the team and your company? Research shows that good performance happens when people understand how their efforts impact on the achievement of objectives.

7. Did you set SMART objectives? Are the objectives you set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) and did your team member have everything from you they needed to succeed?

8. How can you make the appraisal meeting a positive experience? One common error many managers make in formal reviews is to simply look at the past. Make the review positive by focusing on the future as well.

9. What do you need to do to make the new objectives that you will set happen? Consider the review as a starting point. What will you do after the review to ensure that things move steadily forward?

10. Do you need to brush up on your skills so you can lead the performance of your team more effectively? Attending a course, such as positive performance management, can help you develop and hone your skills so that appraisals become a positive experience for you and your team members.