Conducting performance reviews

Creating a culture that promotes reviewing and improving performance will help you grow a strong and effective business. Approaching performance review discussions positively and productively is an important step in building your team's confidence in the process.

Schedule sessions once or twice a year. Maintaining an annual schedule for formal performance review sessions will encourage your team to view performance reviews as part of normal, healthy business function.

Supervisors who have daily contact with the team members in review are best placed to conduct performance review sessions. You may wish to see the results and discuss them with your senior staff members after the sessions. Make sure your management team members are applying your performance standards fairly across your team and handling sensitive conversations with courtesy and consideration.

Prepare staff for feedback

Let your team members know to expect feedback on their performance. Also let them know that the purpose of the feedback is to recognise their significant value to your business and help them reach their potential.

You may also like to ask staff to give you feedback about their job and the business, as this can be valuable in business planning. Acknowledging concerns and comments from your staff will ensure they feel recognised and understood.

Don't rush the time

Allow around 1.5 hours for performance review sessions—this gives team members enough time to become comfortable in the discussion and carefully work through the issues for discussion.

Open positively

Acknowledge the strengths and contributions of team members early in the discussion. Crediting their efforts will let them know they're valued, make them more receptive to constructive feedback, and help them enter the conversation comfortably.

Discuss staff performance

Focus the early part of your discussion on past performance, then apply those learnings to future goals, planning and performance.

Work through the objectives, goals and targets, focusing on areas of need, opportunity and merit—and reflect on objectives set at the previous discussion.

Provide rewards and remedies

Consider ways to solve staff problems and reward good performance that recognise the needs and preferences of each team member. For example, offer a fixed-period work-from-home day to a staff member with family needs.

Also allow staff to find their own solutions. They will be more inclined to adopt solutions and suggestions for improvement if they have been involved in identifying them.

Clarify next steps

Agree on a new or revised set of objectives and discuss your initial proposals for training and development, new incentives, rewards or other measures. Be measured, positive and confident in making recommendations about training and development needs.

Keep good records of the discussion

Your attention to maintaining performance review paperwork will help you build valuable records that will inform your future reviews and staff development decisions. Be sure to include records of critical incidents.

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