5 HR Tips for Creating Effective Performance Reviews

As HR professionals know, an employee review is an essential part of building an effective organization. Just like smart recruiting helps you get the best possible talent, a well-developed employee review process allows you to develop that talent. Conducting reviews takes experience to finesse, but is worth the time as a strong team building tool. Following these five key points when reviewing your organization’s review process can turn an HR challenge into an HR success.
1.  The best reviews involve the employee in a self-assessment process that motivates, celebrates strengths and identifies clear areas for improvements.
Begin with having the employee fill out a self-assessment for you ahead of time. This self- assessment will provide you with a starting point for the review. Seeing from the employee’s perspective will teach you things that you otherwise might not see.
2.  Use the self-assessment as a way to keep the conversation focused and as a tool for you to accentuate strengths and address areas for growth.
The in-person employee review meeting can be stressful. Beginning with reviewing the self-assessment can ease the tension and get a conversation started. Many employees will admit the areas in which they aren’t as strong. When an employee brings up their own weaknesses, it is easier to have a proactive conversation about them without the employee feeling defensive. This will help you create an honest discussion and set goals for improvement. Make sure that the conversation is two sided; listen as much as you speak. Always alternate between addressing the employee’s positive and negative performances. Use the conversation to empower the employee to identify new goals.
3.  Create an employee review form that reflects the values and goals of your organization.
If you are building a review process from scratch, there are tools available to build review forms.  Whether you use your own or adapt an existing form, the process needs to be consistent. Be sure all employees are aware of the process and any changes you make well before individual reviews begin. The review process should be an organic part of the organization and help build a strong team who knows what to expect in the process. All levels of the organization should engage in a similar review process. If the review includes scoring or grading an employee’s performance, the scoring system needs to be clearly defined. Adhering to a standard review procedure builds trust in your leadership and builds camaraderie across the organization. As your company evolves, adjust the review process when necessary to support your mission statement.
4.  Review the employee review form in a conversational manner.
Do not just read the form out loud to the employee. A two-sided conversation is more beneficial to both of you. Be sure to take the jargon out of the process and communicate clearly the specific areas you will focus on so that the employee feels comfortable with the process. If a monitoring process needs to be established for an employee experiencing challenges, be sure to work that out formally in the written review. When the review is over, discuss pay raises and the employee’s goals. If an employee is going to receive a raise, or an adjustment in duties, give a specific start date. Always give the employee a copy of the review.
5.  Set up a regular schedule for reviews and clearly communicate changes ahead of time.
Most organizations review employees on an annual basis, although there are some exceptions. New employees often find it beneficial to have a review after 90 days on board. A current employee who is transitioning into a new position may need a review in four to six months. A current employee who was underachieving may benefit from another review in six to ten weeks to encourage the changes or modify the process.
Even the most skilled HR professional can find seasonal employee reviews a daunting task and a cumbersome process.  Your employee review process should be accurate, efficient and goal-oriented. Thoroughly reviewing your company’s review process can help build a strong, focused team.