Most employees and employers dread employee performance reviews. They’re stressful, they take a lot of preparation, and there are often expectations and fears that are so feared they can negatively affect an employee’s productivity and motivation. But if you do them right, performance reviews can be really effective. And the best way to do them probably requires some deviation from the way you’ve been doing them in the past. Here’s how to plan for the fourth quarter employee performance reviews.

4 Tips For Planning Employee Reviews

1. Eliminate the annual review

It’s simply not enough. Once a year means, or at least implies, that you really only assess your employee’s work every twelve months. But if you note something regarding an employee’s performance in January or February and then don’t address it until the fourth quarter, what’s the point? Chances are the feedback at that point will be meaningless and irrelevant. The employee might not even recall the incident or project you’re referencing. The truth is that the best feedback is actually more frequent than that, in real-time, if possible.

2. Hold more frequent reviews

If you can squeeze more reviews into the calendar year, you’ll be better off. You can help your employee manage their goals, learn from mistakes, and overcome any obstacles that pop up. Many companies are incorporating some sort of app or software that allows employees to check in more regularly with their managers, upload relevant documents, and share successes. It’s a way to provide all employees with the support they need and a way to empower employees, putting much of the review process in their hands. Managers can respond to current information in real-time and when managers and employees finally get a chance to sit down and chat, managers are already up to date and the whole process can be less formal.

3. Adopt a new rating system

More traditional rating systems involve some sort of scale, either numerical or qualitative, but those can be very limiting and don’t necessarily give an accurate depiction of an employee’s value, particularly if they’re learning a new skill or in a period of growth or improvement. Some companies are starting to weigh ratings that come from the employee, coworkers, and even clients and customers. In this case, the more data, the better. Other companies are asking an employees’ peers to answer questions about how they rely on the employee-in-question and how that person contributes to the health of the company.

4. Rethink compensation

It’s hard for employers to keep talented employees happy when they’re restricted by the pay scales pre-determined by the company. Some companies are allowing managers greater flexibility when it comes to bonuses, like offering them twice a year or not limiting employees to a specific number. Other companies have permitted other employees to award bonuses—either cash or gift cards for company merchandise—to their peers who they note are doing a good job.

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