If you’ve never done an employee review before, the idea of telling someone how they are doing might keep you up at nights – even if you have only good things to report.
But if you’ve kept the lines of communication open throughout the year, nothing you say should come as a surprise. And if you use the review correctly, it can be a valuable tool that facilitates an honest conversation about the employee’s future, improves job performance, and motivates employees.
Ready to conduct your employee reviews with confidence? Try these tips on for size:
- Do your homework. Hopefully, you’ve created an employee handbook that outlines employee expectations and describes your company culture. Refer to the handbook if it’s relevant (more likely in a negative review). Make sure to tell the employee where they’ve excelled and what can be improved. Try to create a review form that has measurable standards so the employee can see what they need to work on. Tip: Have each employee fill out a self-evaluation so you can see how they think they’re doing.
- Be specific. Leave general feelings about performance and ability out of the review. Stick to the specifics. Don’t say, “You seem like you don’t care.” Instead, say, “I’d like to see you take initiative and offer your own ideas about how to improve the process.” Tip: Make sure you document all the specific tasks or behaviors that need improving in case you have to fire the person down the road. For more advice, read the post, “Small-Business Owners: What Happens When You Hire the Wrong Person?”
- Be honest about positives and negatives. You aren’t helping anyone if you gloss over the bad parts and only focus on the good stuff. At the same time, you don’t want the person to walk out of the review feeling picked on and uninspired. Tip: Go over the review with a spouse or friend before you deliver it. They can help you determine whether the review is too harsh or too nice.
- Encourage feedback. Don’t do all the talking. Emphasize that the review should be a conversation. (However, if you don’t want the person to talk until the end of the review, say so at the beginning.) Ask the employee if they need clarification on any points you made or actions you requested. Tip: If the employee is too shy to talk, ask specific questions about each of the review points to get the conversation going.
- Focus on the future. Make sure the employee knows what you expect to happen by the next review, and ask them to share ideas on how to improve. Tip: Set one or two goals that you would like to be met by the next review.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva's free TrendCast reports.