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Performance review

How to ensure performance reviews yield the desired result

There are many ways in which companies tackle performance management today.  While some still prefer an annual review process, others have started to adopt more regular performance assessment methods, but method or process aside, there are a few basic techniques which ensure maximum effectiveness.

1. Preparation is key

Performance reviews should not be taken lightly.  Done well, it can boost performance and improve company morale.  Done poorly, it can lead to animosity and disengaged employees.  So, in preparation for the review, be sure to:

  • Request previous performance review records and any other performance-related findings you have on record to get a holistic view of the employee
  • Draw up an agenda for the review and share this agenda with the employee ahead of time
  • Be specific about any events or data points you’d like to discuss to also give the employee an opportunity to prepare.

2. Make the circle bigger

The responsibility of a performance review doesn’t have to fall on one person’s shoulders.  Reach out to others who have also worked with the employee to get their views.  These could include other members of your management team, the person’s direct team members, or even vendors and clients they have engaged with.  Asking someone to do a self-assessment can also yield interesting insights.  It’s a great way to confirm whether you’re on the same page, or whether there’s more work to be done to get there.

3. Be the best coach you can be

Performance reviews can be a daunting experience for any employee.  The feeling of being judged is overwhelming and therefore emotions can get the better of the situation.  It is therefore important to play the role of their coach or mentor.  Make it clear that you’re rooting for them and that your main interest is for them to be the very best they can be.

4. Honesty is the best policy

For most people, confrontations are something they prefer to avoid.  This means that employers and managers often bend the truth to soften the blow or avoid an uncomfortable situation.  But as much as the truth may hurt, avoiding it isn’t going to help anybody.  Often, you’ll find that the employee wasn’t even aware that they were doing something wrong, or could be performing better, and therefore they’re open to suggestions and willing to improve.

5. Co-create a plan of action

Whether this is your star employee or someone in need of serious guidance, a plan of action which both parties believe in is needed for performance reviews to make a real impact.  Discuss your employee’s career goals, show an interest in them as a person and where they’d like to be.  Plan out practical steps that can be taken to advance their careers, set measurable goals, and agree on the way you’re going to track their progress against these together.

What have you found to be your most effective performance review technique?  Leave a comment below to share your experience with us.  Alternatively, reach out to us on 021 447 5696 or email

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