Empowering employees to perform well while also providing constructive (and sometimes critical) feedback can be a difficult balance, even for the most experienced managers. But when it’s done well, it’s the key to unlocking not only great performance, but even better relationships between you and your team.
At Kin, we’re big on feedback. So much so, we built a tool to help make it easier to give and receive. It’s vital to our team to have the feedback they need to be successful. So everything that we find that works, we document.
Here are just a few things we’ve implemented:
Don’t let a scheduled review be the first time they hear your feedback
The first time an employee receives feedback from you shouldn’t be during their annual review. Feedback, informal or formal, should be happening on a regular basis. In fact, some of the most successful businesses swear by mini-feedback sessions happening weekly, if not daily.
Keep surprises at a minimum and ensure that employees have multiple chances throughout the year to make improvements or be recognized for performing well. This will make annual or quarterly reviews easier and more impactful for the employee being reviewed.
Start with a written review, then move to a face-to-face conversation
Begin your assessment with a written document that briefly outlines the main points you want to cover in your in-person conversation. This gives your employee time to review your points and avoid being caught off-guard when it’s time to sit down together. And, of course, it allows the conversation to be more productive overall since both sides know what will be discussed.
Ensure you make the in-person conversation a priority. Carve out time for it, close your computer, and give your employee your full attention. Show them that their growth and place in the company is important to you. Finally, be clear about next steps and what you expect going forward.
This approach is the best for creating room to discuss, process, and respond while also demonstrating your investment in the employee as a professional.
Evaluate and provide feedback on behaviors and their results, not traits
Traits are too subjective to be examined in a thorough performance evaluation. ‘Motivated’ is a weak descriptor with no solid evidence. On the other hand, ‘finished X number of projects X weeks ahead of schedule’ provides an example of a behavior that produced positive results and provides the employee with proof of your investment in the review.
The same is true of negative behaviors: while you may not be able to objectively prove an employee is unmotivated, you can point to missed deadlines, frequent tardiness, or poor customer satisfaction reviews.
Make the outcome of the assessment clear
What will the result of this performance assessment be, a raise? A promotion? Or just a pat on the back?
Communicate to the employee whether this review is for coaching purposes, potential advancement in the company, or evaluating with the purpose of a raise. Setting clear expectations prevents confusion and allows employees to focus on the matter at hand (their performance) instead of the vague question of a potential raise. Document each step of an assessment if it’s for the purpose of a raise or promotion, and provide follow-up notes and additional check-ins if it’s for professional development.
Reviews aren’t the end to something, they’re the beginning of even better performance. By handing over an key-action follow-up, you’re helping the employee navigate their way through the company and their own career.
Be honest. Be kind.
It’s not just the nice thing to do. It can also make a difference later on down the line. Continually giving employees positive reviews despite poor performance might make termination procedures difficult and could even lead to a lawsuit. Plus, it doesn’t allow the employee to do better or progress in their career. In fact, it stunts it.
Be honest, even when it’s uncomfortable, and always try to point the employee toward practical steps for improvement.
Still unsure of how to get the most out your employee reviews? Reach out to us. We’ll be happy to share ideas and resources that can ensure a smooth employee assessment process.