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Ten Tips for Conducting Productive End of The Year Employee Reviews

Tis’ the season!  The end of the year not only brings the holidays but for many managers, it’s time to review the performance of the individuals on your team.   Who’s been naughty and who’s been nice? 

Not only can this be a stressful time for employees but it can also be uncomfortable for managers.  But done right, this can be a great tool in improving employee and company performance.  Employees want to know what tasks they excel in. But with the good must come the bad; it’s all in how it’s presented. 

Here's a simple checklist to help you get through the fundamentals of the review meeting.

Leading up to the meeting

  • Set benchmarks early.
    • For new employees, use the job description as a guide;
    • For employees already in place, have those employees help define their tasks and performance goals.
    • Goals should be realistic, specific, measurable, achievable, and attainable within a certain time frame.
    • Layout expectations for the following year.  Are there any new goals / tasks coming up in the pipeline?
  • Draft an evaluation form (if your organization doesn’t already have one in place).
  • Announce the review in advance to allow for preparation.
  • Encourage employees to bring up items for discussion to add to the agenda, so that the areas they wish to focus on are covered in the meeting.

What to cover in the meeting

  • Start with the good. 
    • When you start with the bad, you run the risk of the employee shutting down.
    • Praise the employee for goal achievement. 
  • Tackle the bad.
    • Be honest rather than negative.  
    • Ensure that unsatisfactory performance is identified in a non-threatening way.
    • Find a solution both parties agree on and develop a plan within a defined timeframe to change things around. 
  • End on a positive. 
    • Establish new goals, as well as methods for achieving them, making sure they are realistic and attainable.
    • Make it personal.  Tweak some of the goals so that they also further the employee’s personal development.

How to cover raises and bonuses

  • Before starting this discussion, gain consensus on what you discussed in the review first.  If you both are not on the same page, hear them out.
  • When discussing compensation, (both raises and bonuses), try to minimize the surprises.  Prior to the review (and even before the employee starts) make sure you communicate the basis of any associated increases.   Are they based on company performance, employee performance, some combination of both?  
  • With that understanding, explain what they will receive for a raise and/or bonus:
    • If the raise / bonus is above normal, highlight that and specifically what they did to earn it.
    • If the raise / bonus is below normal, help them understand whether it is due to their specific performance or the company’s, and more importantly what they can do next year in order to see more favorable results. 

It’s important to note that the most successful companies rise and fall together.  If everyone is on the same page and benefits from the company’s performance, it will drive the company’s profitability upwards in the end.  Don’t shy away from employee reviews; embrace the opportunity to allow growth for everyone involved.

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