Have you been wondering whether you should have regular employee reviews? The answer is yes. Here’s why.
1. Regular communication is critical to success. If your employees operate in a vacuum where they have no formal feedback on their performance, how are they going to know what areas they’re doing well in and what areas need improvement? Sure, they’ll likely have some idea, but it’s easy to fall in the trap that no news is good news. Your employee might think she’s doing a perfectly fine job, while you think otherwise.
2. Getting an employee to the next level in her career requires strategic planning. Even stellar employees need goals and things to reach for. Employee reviews provide an opportunity to look back but also plan new goals.
3. Millennials demand it. Even if your organization hasn’t experienced an influx of Millennials yet, it will sometime in the near future. This newest generation of workers is hitting the workforce in droves, and they’re bringing new needs and new ways of doing things. Millennials work best with regular feedback. If you’re thinking of skipping out on employee reviews with this demographic, you’ll find yourself with many unhappy employees.
4. Paper trails matter. They matter when it comes to promotions and raises. They matter when it comes to a wide variety of legal issues (reminder: we’re not lawyers, so don’t take this as legal advice). Having a complete dossier on each employee, one that includes the paperwork a formal review generates, will also help HR, talent management (matching mentors and mentees, for example), and diversity managers.
5. Regular reviews can illuminate organizational challenges. If you’re conducting regular reviews, and you consistently hear employees bringing up the same issue, you know you have to address it at an organizational level. By the way, don’t expect to hear only bad things. Employee reviews can also illuminate stuff you’re doing right. For example, if you’re running a mentoring program, you might hear positive feedback from employees during their reviews.
6. You can inject a fresh dose of motivation into employees’ work life. Let’s face it: even the most ambitious person needs a boost from time to time. Regular reviews can provide that motivation by acknowledging what the employee is doing well and giving her something to reach for.
So how often should you hold employee reviews, and what are some tips for making them successful? Shoot for quarterly reviews. For all of you managers out there groaning at the thought of all the paperwork, hear us out.
First, as we mentioned above, younger workers crave regular feedback. This need is only going to increase as more Millennials come on board.
Second, by conducting quarterly reviews (instead of annual reviews), you can actually decrease the amount of paperwork and the amount of time devoted to these reviews. Why? Because you’ll only be reviewing three months’ worth of performance instead of twelve. These reviews, as a result, become a bit more casual and comfortable, which is good for everyone.
Another way to look at it is like this: it’s much easier for managers to deliver feedback on three months of work and it’s much easier for employees to digest the feedback than it would be for a year’s worth of work. We’re not alone in our thinking on this, either. This article from AOL Small Business emphasizes the importance of quarterly reviews.
As for tips on how to conduct performance reviews, here’s what to keep in mind:
- Forget how performance reviews have been done in the past. News flash: there’s no such thing as The Performance Review Police Force. In other words, there are no laws on how to conduct them, so guess what? YOU get to decide how they should run. Create the type of review process that you would welcome. Think less paperwork, more conversation, and a casual, comfortable atmosphere.
- Don’t do all the talking. If you want to make these reviews truly productive and comfortable for you and the employee, turn them into conversations. Share your thoughts, but then ask the employee for feedback on your feedback. Listen to what she has to say. Clarify points. Answer questions.
- Keep notes, of course. Yes, a review is going to generate some paperwork. But don’t feel you must use lengthy forms or spreadsheets. Create a document that works for you and your employees. If you’re meeting quarterly, this probably won’t be longer than two to three pages. Don’t have time to create a document? No problem! We have a variety of performance management forms that you can customize for your needs.
Do you conduct regular employee reviews? How often do you do them? What are some other do’s and don’ts that you can think of? Share in the comments below.