Winning Performance Reviews – Part l: HR perspective

Performance reviews tend to be the bane of HR job responsibilities, but when they are approached and conducted with the right attitude, they can be a positive part of your company’s growth strategy. Regardless of your company’s method/approach, you can improve your effectiveness with these basic guidelines.

Make the time: We indicate the amount of value an activity has by the amount of time we assign to it. Give performance reviews the time they deserve. Don’t make them an annual squeeze-it-in-when-you-can event. Set semi-annual or even quarterly time slots for your reviews. Start preparing for the next review the day following the last review.

Establish a plan: Keep it simple and user-friendly. Remember performance reviews have a dual purpose.
• Build a supportive, trust-based relationship where the employee’s goals and responsibilities align with company mission and both sides are strengthened in the process.
• Provide clear, specific feedback to the employee about the things he or she is doing well and areas requiring further improvement.
Creating a standard company form, which functions at multiple levels will save time and hassle and improve communication. The form should include:
• Job description and expectations with an overview upon which basis and methods that particular position will be evaluated
• Over all job performance, employee goal setting, and objectives for helping promote the company’s, and the specific department’s, mission.
• Space for documenting both positive accomplishments and negative events throughout the time period being reviewed. Don’t document anything, however, without the employee’s knowledge.

Focus on Communication: It is HR’s responsibility to turn performance reviews into an effective tool for company growth. This takes adequate communication. In this case, it’s a conversation between two people, requiring listening skills as well as speaking.
Prior to review:
• Communicate a timetable to the employee. Make a specific appointment – give a two-week notice for quarterly reviews and a thirty-day notice for semiannual reviews.
• Provide the employee with a documented overview of what will be discussed. Communicate directly and honestly about what’s expected, as well as the consequences of failure to deliver on expectations. This will allow him time to prepare for necessary feedback.
During the review:
• Compliment positive actions and attitudes. If specific accomplishments were recorded in their file, discuss how their actions made a difference to the company. When appropriate, talk about adding additional responsibilities, increased pay, promotions, etc.
• Deal with any negative events. Discuss what might have been done to avoid the situations and what changes will be needed for the future. Do not spring surprises. If an event or on-going attitude was not significant enough to merit documentation, it should not be placed on the table.
• Conclude with a discussion of employee goals; and how those goals will collaborate with company goals. Evaluate potential obstacles and how to remove them. Affirm the employee with an expression of thanks and a vote of confidence.

In reality, performance reviews are an art that, though challenging, can be mastered. They inspire forward movement, reward those who contribute, and provide a tool for eliminating those who take the company down. Approaching reviews with an appreciation of their worth will empower your HR department, and ultimately the company.

Contact Springborn Staffing today. We are your company’s HR extension. We will match companies in Bangor and Portland, Maine with candidates who make performance reviews a positive experience for everyone.

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