Performance Review

A regular, focused and positive performance review is one of the most effective ways to not only retain talent, but also attract top candidates to your business.

The ability to demonstrate a robust commitment to personal development and consistent staff appraisals is a crucial step to establishing a strong employer brand, becoming known as a company of choice within the talent marketplace, and building employee engagement. This is particularly crucial for Millennial candidates – with Gallup finding that only three in 10 are engaged at work, emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company. Carving out time to give regular feedback on an employee’s performance can make a huge difference, engendering loyalty and bolstering productivity.

When planning your next performance review, what are some essential elements to include? Let’s explore together.


Performance review template

The structure of a performance review will vary between sectors and roles.  However, a core template always broadly applies: each performance review should explore how the employee has performed in clear areas against their role’s core competencies and responsibilities. The performance review should be specific, ideally looking for measurable results against assigned, SMART targets, and with timescales defined for the achievement of these.


Frequency of performance reviews

Each business will choose to conduct performance reviews in a different way, depending on size, capacity and what is operationally viable.  It is widely accepted that extended employee appraisals should be carried out annually at an absolute minimum – quarterly is desirable.

However, best practice also calls for monthly performance check-ins, ideally carried out on a one-on-one basis between the employee and their line manager.  Frequent, more informal meetings provide the opportunity for praise to be given in a timely manner and for any potential issues to be flagged and discussed, with solutions agreed before issues can become a problem for the business.


What to ask in a performance review

Line managers should use reviews as an opportunity, firstly, to check in on the employee’s job satisfaction levels and any areas that may be having a negative impact on productivity or output – a good rule of thumb is to spend the first five minutes of any review meeting having a wider, personal conversation to put the employee at ease.

The performance review should then look to retrospectively cover any work delivered since the last appraisal – including key achievements, as well as any difficulties that the employee has encountered along the way. To make the best use of time, it is always wise to ask employees to prepare in advance ahead of the meeting and be clear on what they want to say – making it clear that the review meeting will be a chance for two-way open dialogue.


Balance praise with constructive criticism

It’s easy to be critical – to look for the flaws in the work of another. A performance review should, of course, be used as an opportunity to highlight areas for improvement, however, unless there is a serious performance issue that needs to be addressed, try to be as positive as you can.

Focus on what went well and, if you do need to be critical, be constructive about it – ask the employee what they could have done differently, why they handled a situation in the way that they did, and if there is any support or training you can provide to improve their skillset. Your employee should leave the review meeting feeling motivated, engaged, and ready to bring their very best to the next challenge.

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