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How to Enhance Employee Performance Reviews

Measuring employee performance and providing feedback are essential tasks for those who are a part of a management team. If workers aren't aware that their employee performance analytics are less than stellar, they aren't likely to change their behavior or work strategies to improve. This makes reviews critical, but many executives fail to make them as effective as possible — or even bother to complete them at all. 

Are Reviews Really Necessary? 
Executives have differing opinions on employee performance reviews. While some devote time to them and see the activity as a way to help workers grow and develop, others feel they are pointless and don't do much to enhance an employee's work. 

A 2012 article in Psychology Today examines the drawbacks of reviews and negative impact they can have on both workers and managers. The piece brings up the fact that the human brain is designed to defend itself against criticism that hurts self-esteem, even if the comments are cloaked as "constructive criticism." This type of critique, which is common in performance reviews, can lead employees to adopt a defensive attitude, whether they do so actively or passively.

While some managers may think their constructive feedback is taken well, it may not be appreciated by workers. This disconnect, combined with the fact that some employees don't change their work strategies or behavior after such a discussion, leads some experts to think reviews aren't really a necessity.

Improving the Traditional Performance Review 
Still, some employers feel they are necessary to keep track of their workers and avoid liability from disgruntled employees. Management teams need to employ the latest strategies to improve their review processes and ensure their tactics are actually productive for everyone involved. Consider the following tips:

• Show reviews are an important part of employee development. When management teams don't seem to put effort into worker reviews and treat them as just another task to complete, employees aren't likely to care much either, meaning they may not take what's said in these sessions seriously. Managers who shows they care enough to spend the time helping an employee develop will likely receive a better response than those who complete reviews just because it's company policy.

 Consider how the small things can impact the discussion. Some experts advise against holding reviews between two people in an enormous conference room or at a large table — smaller environments may create a more intimate atmosphere in which both parties feel more comfortable. The same goes for seating arrangements; while sitting across from an employee may facilitate an easy discussion, some workers may walk away feeling they have been lectured. Consider sitting next to the team member instead, particularly If you're providing positive feedback.

 Don't lecture; have a discussion. Even if an employee's performance hasn't been satisfactory but you want to keep the person on board, lecturing probably won't do much to help him or her improve —it may push the person out the door. Instead of merely critiquing and offering suggestions for improvement, open up a discussion with questions and allow the worker to give his or her own opinions. In return, you may get helpful suggestions and hear about projects the person has completed successfully that you hadn't even noticed. 

• Follow up after reviews and provide ongoing feedback. Employee reviews are not beneficial if they're completed once a year and never discussed again. Managers should frequently check in with employees and praise them for the progress they've made since their last review, if warranted. Knowing this type of conversation is encouraged may also help workers open up more about their challenges, offer suggestions and feel more comfortable with the direction of their careers. 

• Offer more than constructive criticism. Reviews should take a look forward, not just look backward. Praise a worker's efforts to take on new projects, learn more about operations or develop better relationships with clients. Be encouraging and you could see vast improvements in your employees and your team overall.