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By: Lauren Liddle on August 21st, 2017

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5 Best Practices to Consider When Conducting Performance Evaluations

Total Rewards | Business Management & Strategy

It’s performance evaluation time, and everyone knows these conversations can sometimes be difficult. Whether you’re measuring engagement, presenting feedback, or conversing with your youngest employee, some scenarios will be new and unpredictable.

At Helios HR, we’ve found there are five considerations that can change the entire delivery and reception of performance evaluations. These slight adjustments can help enhance job performance and make the difficult conversations not so difficult. Below are a few tips we recommend to our clients during employee performance reviews.

5 Tips to Consider When Conducting Performance Reviews

1) Not only are you a leader, you are a coach

Yes, as a manager you are signing-off on timesheets and making sure everyone is doing their work, but great leaders also develop their employees, set expectations, remove obstacles, and provide guidance.

Possessing an encouraging and motivational attitude demonstrates excitement, reassurance, and trust to employees. By coaching employees through their projects, leaders can inspire them to give it their all, and, the company walks away with quality results. Leveraging employee strengths through coaching assures that employees feel confident, capable, and advised, and in return, this allows them to work smarter.

2) Know your audience and tailor your approach

You probably have a good idea on who I'm referring to with this one...that's right, Millennials! Millennials have been a huge force in the workforce over the last decade and this generation typically has different expectations when it comes to receiving reviews. Millennials like to receive and give feedback, and they also value clarity and access to leadership. Millennials want to know how they can progress their careers at your organization and exactly what steps do they need to take to get there.

When you can provide the clarity and openness they crave, you will motivate the younger employees to keep performing and stimulate their connection to the organization. Encourage questions to ensure millennial workers feel comfortable in the workplace, and build their confidence and knowledge in the industry.

3) Feedback vs. Feedforward

Many top places of business have an established feedback or performance review system that provides workplace insights to both the employer and the employee. However, it is often the delivery of the feedback that causes tensions between the two parties. By partaking in feedforward, versus feedback, leaders are viewed as supportive yet also direct in the bottom line.

Instead of feedback, which focuses on the past and the mistakes made by the employee, feedforward looks at what an employee can improve on in the future. Feedforward helps employees look toward forthcoming projects while also motivating them to improve their skills and production.

This mindset does not come naturally. Leaders must take time and be thoughtful in how they approach the feedforward conversation. If leaders can begin to focus on improvements in the future, rather than dwelling on mistakes of the past, employees will start to feel more motivated in their work, and more open to discussions with management.

4) Be Specific and Give Clarity

It’s not just Millennials who seek clarity. At one time or another, all employees have been unclear on instructions, procedures, or expectations. By giving employees permission to seek clarity, leaders provide them with a welcoming and human-friendly workplace.

Often times, what one person describes or explains can have a different meaning to the listener. By encouraging employees to seek clarity in everyday work life, as well as during performance reviews, leaders are encouraging employees to become comfortable asking for help, and eventually, a higher quality of work can be completed at a faster pace.

5) Gauge Retention with Stay Interview Questions

Sometimes, difficult questions are necessary. To truly gauge how an employee feels about their position in a company, it’s important for leaders to understand the employee perceptions of work and the office.

A stay interview is a structured discussion a leader conducts with each individual employee to learn the specific action he or she must take to strengthen that employee’s engagement and retention with the organization. Stay interviews bring information to light that a leader can use today, focuses on the individual employee, and puts management in the solutions seat.

When conducting a stay interview, Helios recommends following The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention, author Richard Finnegan's advice. Beginning with these top five questions:

  1. What do you look forward to each day when you drive to work?
  2. What are you learning? What do you want to learn?
  3. Why do you stay here?
  4. What could cause you to leave us?
  5. What can I do to make your job better?

These questions are proven to get conversations started and can help leaders gain insight on what they can do to make the workplace enjoyable, productive, and successful for everyone.

While these five considerations are not the only tools that can be used to enhance the performance review process, they ensure that employees feel heard and valued.

When employees feel valued, they are able to accomplish their work timely and correctly, feel comfortable seeking help from co-workers and leaders, and they are sure to perform at top notch levels. By enhancing performance evaluation conversations, leaders can in return, make an impact in enhancing their organization's performance and business success.