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Annual performance reviews are a crucial part of employee development. It’s a great opportunity to discuss job performance, set goals for professional development, establish objectives for contributing to the department’s mission, and discuss expectations and accomplishments. Here are some tips and some links for effective employee performance reviews.

5 Tips For Running Great Reviews

Tip #1: Performance reviews are a process

First, a formal employee performance review should never be the first time an employee hears about his performance—either positive or negative. As an effective manager, you should be communicating with your employees regularly, weekly, or even daily. Then the formal meeting is just a reiteration of those critical points. If there’s something glaring that needs work, you could use a performance improvement plan (PIP). To keep your employees motivated, make sure you discuss a career plan and goals.

Tip #2: Have your employee self-evaluate

Self-evaluations are a good way to bring behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, failures, and successes to your employees’ attention. This allows them to take ownership of their actions, enhances their self-awareness, and gives you the chance to measure your evaluation of them with their own. Any discrepancies are a great way to initiate a conversation about their role and performance. Sometimes poor performance is due to a misunderstanding—your struggling employee may have misinterpreted his duties or your expectations.

Tip #3: Share your format ahead of time

It’s important not to spring any surprises on your employee. Let your employees know from the beginning how you evaluate them, what the consequences for poor performance are, and what the rewards for exceptionally good performance are. If you’re going to solicit feedback from co-workers and other supervisors, they should be aware of that process as well. You might even consider sharing the formal document with the employee before you sit down for your meeting so he has time to digest it and gather his thoughts.

Tip #4: Prepare for the meeting

Always prepare ahead of time for your performance review meetings. Remember that these are critical moments in an employee’s career and key opportunities for feedback and improvement. Jot down notes so you make sure you choose appropriate language that’s clear and encouraging. Every meeting and evaluation should be clearly documented so you can make sure the employee is progressing and making improvements.

Tip #5: Meet with the employee

The meeting should be a conversation, a sincere dialogue that offers positive feedback for solid performance and suggestions for improvement. Be clear and specific about what’s going well and what’s not and give the employee the chance to respond and ask questions. Focus on the future—what are the employee’s goals for the next quarter? What challenges might he face? And don’t be afraid to receive some feedback about yourself—how can you be a better manager for your employees?

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