Review procedure before reviewing performance

PERFORMANCE reviews are used, among other things, to give managers an insight into how employees feel about their company and their job – if they’re correctly undertaken.

According to Recruitment Solutions WA general manager Bunty Paramor, however, many managers do not know how to conduct performance reviews.

“You want to keep them happy or they’ll go elsewhere,” Ms Paramor said.

“A common error with a lot of managers is that they haven’t been trained and they see the review as a way to say what hasn’t been done right.

“It should be a two-way conversation and the serious errors should not wait for a performance review, but be addressed at the time.

“You have to find out what they feel about the job and what they are and are not happy about. Often employees don’t feel they are coping but don’t ask for help.”

Knipe Management Consultants managing consultant James Miller said managers should question why the review was taking place.

“It may sound like a simple question but if a manager thinks it’s just a function of their job then they won’t get the benefits of it,” he said.

“It needs to be a worthwhile investment, talking to the employee about the history and the future.

“You want to make sure you are debriefing past performance and setting up future performance expectations.

“You should spend about a third of the time debriefing goal achievement and how you think they have performed and how they think they have performed. It is an opportunity to give them feedback, encouragement and leverage off their talents and interests ... it’s not about blame its about a joint discussion.

“You should spend the remaining two thirds of the time talking about the future. Clarify expectations and use SMART goals (specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, timeframed). If the goals haven’t got one of those elements, then its not going to work.”

Mr Miller said it was vital that expectations be clarified.

“They need to be linked very closely to the business challenges,” he said.

“The why part is needed. It helps employees understand the importance of the goal.”

Ms Paramor said managers should document issues that would be looked into and outline a timeframe to get back to the employee.

“I often write down an action that will be done by whom and by when,” she said.

Mr Miller said the setting of a performance review was important to open up the conversation.

“Managers need to consider where they are having the review. It needs to encourage honest discussion,” he said.

“Go to a cafe or somewhere neutral, but not so casual that it becomes too casual and that the discussion doesn’t matter.”

Mr Miller said the discussion should focus not only on outcomes but also identify and analyse an employee’s behaviour.

“It’s not just about output, [such as] sales results for example. It’s about how people behave during their job, their behaviours and values,” he said.

“They may have fantastic sales figures but they may have alienated the customer or their colleagues in the process.”

Ms Paramor said that, in order to undertake a performance review, a company should out-line to its employees when the review would occur and have clear performance measures

in place for individual employees.

“Employees should have a job description with key performance indicators and key results areas in place,” she said.

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