Running a successful team is an outcome managers strive for. It takes effective leadership to create spaces of trust and honesty that’ll help evolve top performers even when criticism needs to be shared. An important element of a performance review is how we evaluate an employee’s performance and turn it into opportunities for professional growth.
“For the giver of feedback, the process is key to getting people to practice the right things, prioritize opportunities, and clarify accountabilities owned by the individual versus the manager or the company.”- Harvard Business Review
It’s not uncommon for employees to get discouraged when performance reviews roll around the corner, but changing the narrative by adjusting your approach could encourage a positive outcome your team could look forward to. After all, the purpose of these reviews is to guide development, discover challenges, clarify goals, and promote practices for improving performance.
As formal or informal as your planned performance reviews may be, even the slightest criticisms can feel like a personal attack. This is why the delivery is just as important as the feedback itself.
Employees and supervisors should have similar expectations about what will take place in a performance review. It’s within both parties’ best interest to clarify what’s to be discussed and gained by these meetings.
Fears and anxiety about the process itself can hinder professionals’ desire to face evaluations, even though they are essential for impactful growth within a team and organization. Leaders who address these concerns before a performance review can take advantage of their feedback strategy.
The reality is there may always be cause for discomfort when receiving feedback, no matter how well you prepare a team member for their upcoming review. This fact could even result in your hesitation to give it.
Managers can help reduce reluctance by approaching performance reviews as a continuous and year-long process rather than a pinned date for constructive criticism. For instance, if a project is underway and you see an opportunity to help your team optimize their performance, it is counterproductive to wait till they’ve completed the task only to tell them you would’ve preferred it done differently.
“Giving feedback throughout the year and touching base with an employee to see how they’re working toward their yearly goals can help improve worker morale and keep employees on track at work.” – Freshbooks
Boosting employee engagement, ongoing support, and encouragement to improve performance are additional perks of an employee appraisal that are hard to maintain if only done once a year. Intentional action plans are necessary for real-time one-on-ones or group feedback sessions to solidify the foundation of a top performer.
There are two sides to providing constructive feedback. On one side is positive feedback, and on the other is negative feedback. But these aren’t mutually exclusive. When you have negative or positive things to say in a performance review, lacing them together gives a fuller scope of what’s going right and what needs some adjustment.
Negative feedback could be as simple as pointing out errors in a project, but if intertwined with positive feedback, the person receiving constructive criticism can better understand what you want without feeling defeated. Consider some of these performance review phrases when having difficulty pairing good and less-than-good feedback:
Aligning the goals you have for your team with those they have for themselves is fundamental for a performance review. Yes, you want your employees to feel appreciated, capable, and encouraged to be their best selves in the workplace, but the broader scope of team development is company growth.
Asking open-ended questions and engaging in nurturing dialogues during your performance reviews helps identify what you and they can do better to strengthen team bonds and promote team accomplishments.
Constructive feedback during a performance review is a must for leaders wanting to elevate their team’s growth. The right approach can sometimes mean removing the “numbers game” of production and getting down to the real issues that may be holding an employee back. Remember, improvement is gradual, not instantaneous. Tracking what changes prove useful and which need adapting is beneficial for continuous progress and getting closer to overall success.
Contributed by Mary Dominguez
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