Many organizations conduct formal performance reviews, typically once a year. While such reviews can be an invaluable tool for evaluating employees, if done poorly, without preparation, they can be counter-productive and harmful to the organization.

For employee performance management to be meaningful and useful, it is important to remember that it is a process which requires planning and preparation; the annual review is but one part of that process.

An effective employee performance review process involves:

  • proactive planning at the beginning of the performance year;
  • ongoing feedback and coaching during the year; and
  • an annual Performance Plan and Review meeting.

Proactive Planning within the employee performance management process includes long term preparation such as engaging in ongoing dialogues throughout the performance cycle and documenting and addressing issues as they arise, as well as short term preparation for the actual interview. For example, booking time for the interview, making sure the employee has a copy of his/her job description, etc.

During the actual employee performance review meeting, it is important to acknowledge an employee’s strengths before discussing areas which require improvement. During the meeting, the supervisor should

  • focus on specifics;
  • Keep comments impersonal and job related; and
  • be respectful.

Before the meeting ends, it is important for the employee to have a clear idea of the goals and expectations for the next year and what support he/she can expect from the organization. It is also important to check in periodically with the employee to find out how the employee is doing and what further support/training is required.

If the employee performance management process is successful, it will result in the organization:

  • identifying performance gaps;
  • determining the cause(s) of the inadequate performance;
  • developing a plan of action to close the performance gap;
  • implementing the plan of action; and
  • evaluating performance to see whether plan is working and the gap is closing