Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) believes that engaged and motivated employees can make the difference between a good company and a great one. That’s why AWCC works hard to empower its employees through a range of initiatives that include employee development programs, opportunities for training and learning, and constructive performance reviews.
Performance reviews in particular provide an excellent opportunity for employers to demonstrate, in a one-on-one scenario, their commitment to ensuring that employees have the tools and assistance they need to perform at the highest level. When a performance review is conducted effectively, employees feel heard and valued by the company, supported in their challenges, and clear about what is expected of them: all of these are key factors in driving employee engagement and motivation.
In order to help ensure a successful performance review, employers should keep the following tips in mind:
1. Performance reviews shouldn’t be the first time anyone receives feedback.
If there’s just one rule that all employers should follow when it comes to performance reviews, it should be this one: Performance reviews are most effective when they are used as touchstones or milestones in combination with less structured, more informal feedback that managers give to employees on a regular basis. When employees hear frequently from supervisors about positive performance or areas where they could improve, they’re better able to make ongoing adjustments. This allows the formal performance review to be more about looking at the bigger picture of an employee’s overall role and progress within a company and less about going through a laundry list of accomplishments and difficulties.
2. Performance reviews should always involve setting goals.
It’s difficult for employees to know whether or not they’re succeeding in their roles if they don’t know exactly what is expected of them. Spending some time on setting and clarifying goals is therefore an important part of an effective performance review. Managers and employees should discuss together the particular expectations of the job and agree on specific goals that an employee should strive for, and produce a written document that both parties can use as a benchmark reference for the future.
3. Employees should have time to prepare.
A performance review should never come as a surprise to an employee. Employees should know beforehand what the format of the review will look like and what will be discussed so that they have time to think about their own contributions to the process. Preparation time is particularly important if any paperwork needs to be filled out as part of the performance review. For example, if an employee will be expected to complete a self-evaluation form, that should be handed out well in advance so the employee is not put on the spot.
4. Employers should be prepared.
Just as employees should take time to prepare for a performance review, so too should employers. If employers conduct performance reviews without adequate preparation, then valuable opportunities for feedback and improvement will be missed, and employees will likely feel undervalued and disrespected. Managers should look over documentation from employees’ previous reviews, solicit additional feedback about the employees from their immediate supervisors, colleagues, and/or reporting staff, and spend some time thinking about how the employee can progress during the coming period.
5. The performance review should be about more than the very recent past.
Performance reviews are not always as effective as they could be because they tend to focus on particular events that happened immediately prior to the review while ignoring or diminishing events or behaviors that occurred earlier in the performance review period. Employers should be on guard against allowing a single recent event—whether positive or negative—to tip the balance against the consistent patterns of behavior that preceded it. For example, if an employee has repeatedly demonstrated a good work ethic and a dedication to completing tasks on time, it’s unfair to allow the review to focus on a recent report that was submitted late. Likewise, successfully completing a deal just before the review shouldn’t outweigh the fact that an employee has consistently had difficulty interacting with clients in the past.
6. Employers should listen as much as (or more than) they talk.
It’s vital for employers to remember that an effective performance review is a conversation, not a monologue. Employees can obtain valuable insight into their struggles and ambitions, but only if their employers are prepared to listen. Ultimately, the goal of a performance review is to establish how employees are doing and not to tell them how they are doing, and this requires a dialogue to which both parties can contribute. Employers can encourage this level of conversation by asking employees questions such as what they hope to achieve at the company during the upcoming period, what they expect will be most challenging about their goals, what kind of support they feel that they need, and how they prefer to receive feedback.