Performance review tips for managers

Regular performance reviews can be a great tool for measuring employees’ productivity and impact, while also forming the basis for any disciplinary actions or terminations that may be required. But, surprise, no one likes doing them. Your employees let out an audible groan each quarter when you send out the reminder, and your stomach knots up just thinking about the task ahead.

You know you need to do it, and, when it’s done well, it can really shine a light on areas that need improvement and can also be the basis for extra employee recognition or promotions. The following performance review tips for managers will help you get through the process unscathed.

First, create and track measurable goals

You need to lay the foundation for the reviews early, well before the review. This means your company objectives and individual employee goals must be realistic, measurable, and have appropriate deadlines for completion. In its online performance appraisal workbook, the University of California uses the acronym “S.M.A.R.T.” when drafting goals for performance reviews, which stands for the following:

  • Specific – What specific task will be completed, and what actions will be taken to achieve this goal?
  • Measurable – What kind of data will be used to track progress and mark its completion? How will this be collected and recorded?
  • Achievable – Do the company and the employee have the skills and resources to make this happen?
  • Relevant – Is the goal clearly aligned with broader organizational goals? (This will also help you articulate your achievements as a manager.)
  • Time-bound – How long will it take, and what is a good estimated completion date?

With these concrete goals established early on, your employees will know exactly what’s expected of them. You need their buy-in, though, so don’t simply hand them their goals without getting their feedback and input. This is something you should work on with each employee individually so as not to set anyone up for failure.

Provide continuous feedback and collect documentation

Don’t wait until the performance review to provide important feedback and suggestions, says talent consultant and author Roberta Chinsky Matuson. Your employees appreciate knowing what’s expected of them and may be shocked to finally hear what they should have been told ages ago. Give them an opportunity to make small adjustments between reviews, which will help boost their productivity and morale.

When there’s an incident or something worth noting (perhaps a notable customer “win”), document it for later. It helps to have a record of specific achievements and areas in need of improvement to measure progress. This also makes it easier for you to summarize their performance for the review period.

Additional performance review tips for managers

If you’ve properly prepared for your performance reviews, including the establishment of specific, measurable goals and regular check-ins, then the review itself shouldn’t be much of a stressor. Be respectful to your employees by conducting reviews in private, being clear about their achievements, and giving them honest feedback, warts and all. Other performance review tips for managers include the following:

  • Value honesty and transparency; this is a key management approach in general, but these values really come into play during the review.
  • Be ready to offer reasonable adjustments employees may need to better achieve their goals, whether it’s a more flexible schedule or switching to a different project.
  • Be kind, but firm; regardless of how much you like a given employee as a person, the review is not personal and should be as objective and direct as possible.
  • If someone needs to be terminated, do it in a timely manner; don’t wait until the performance review date, but give them opportunities to make improvements before pulling the plug.
  • Be aware that goals may change throughout the review period, often as company directives shift, so make sure your employees’ goals are updated accordingly.

Make your performance review process easier by making the best hiring decisions

Helping your workers draft specific, realistic, and measurable goals will help lay the foundation for valuable performance reviews. But to help them reach their potential, you’ll need to make sure they’re on the right track from the beginning, and this starts with recruiting the right candidates. Could you use some help with recruiting, hiring, and managing? Subscribe to Monster Hiring Solutions today, and we’ll send you expert tips on recruiting and management, directly in your inbox.