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  • Revenue iQ Team

A New Manager's Guide to Employee Reviews

We’ve talked about the general aspects of becoming a manager: what to expect, how to be successful, and how to set goals. But what about those more specific manager tasks - for instance, conducting employee evaluations and annual reviews?


Employee reviews are a central process to being a manager, but they can be intimidating if you’ve never had to perform them. These reviews ensure that your employees are meeting the company’s goals and objectives, and regular performance evaluations allow employees to improve their skills, set new goals and expectations, and align their work with the company's overarching vision.


As an employee, you were probably on the receiving end of these reviews, so you know how the process works and how helpful they can be. Now, it’s time to see the other side of things.


Let’s break down how to best conduct these evaluations, so that you can be a better manager, and so your employees make for a better team.



 

Set Clear Objectives


Before starting the evaluation process, establish clear objectives and goals that you expect from your employees, and share those with them from the outset. Position and performance expectations not only help each individual employee stay on track, but it also unites your team around a set of common objectives. The objectives you set should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound – or, as they are often referred to, “SMART” goals. Establishing SMART goals helps you evaluate your employees’ performance against certain metrics, and ensures that employees know what they are working towards.



Collect Performance Data


While reviewing an employee’s performance through more subjective characteristics like professionalism and empathy are crucial, specific metrics will be equally important when evaluating an employee's performance. It’ll help you back up the performance patterns you observe with hard data, which is especially helpful in conversations with your employees. This data is typically gathered through self-assessments, peer reviews, and manager feedback. Self-assessments give employees the opportunity to reflect on their performance, while peer reviews provide valuable feedback from other colleagues. Manager feedback is always crucial as an ongoing practice, but especially in your formal employee reviews – they help employees understand what they are doing well and areas in which they need to improve.



Provide Constructive Feedback


Giving feedback is essential to creating a stronger team, and of course, to being a better manager. In an employee evaluation, if you focus on specific things an employee is doing, that will help you provide more constructive feedback. Constructive feedback involves highlighting specific, objective things an employee is doing, and providing reasoning to back those claims up (i.e., with metrics and data). Feedback that provides praise helps employees recognize their accomplishments, but constructive feedback also means identifying an employee’s areas of improvement. Your feedback should be provided regularly, not just during annual or monthly reviews. Getting to know your employees and building trust one-on-one is a necessity for building a better team - the conversation should go both ways during evaluations, and in the day-to-day workflow. Research shows that behavioral change towards innovation requires goal setting with regular follow-up on said goals.



Develop an Action Plan

After you’ve shared your data and feedback during the review, it’s time to develop a forward-moving action plan with the employee. As we mentioned, the conversation should be continuously two-sided. Together, you can outline goals, training, development opportunities, and support required to develop performance. Developing an action plan alongside your employee will help them focus on areas that need improvement, and it provides a framework to achieve further goals.



Follow up Regularly


Finally, follow up with employees regularly after the evaluation process about their progress. The action plan you created together is a great way for both of you to stay on track and have something to refer back to. Regular one-on-one check-ins help employees stay on track and feel individually supported in achieving their goals. Getting to know each person on your team helps you build trust, and most importantly, open and direct lines of communication. It also provides an opportunity to adjust goals or expectations based on changes in the company's needs.




Although it can feel daunting being unfamiliar to a whole new set of manager responsibilities, with these tools you will be more than equipped to conduct successful employee reviews. Being a manager involves being connected with your team, and these reviews help keep everyone on track while building morale. Regular evaluations and check-ins are critical to maintaining a high-performance team that aligns with the company's vision and objectives.


 

References:

  1. Pulakos, E. (2004). Performance Management. Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/special-reports-and-expert-views/documents/performance-management.pdf

  2. Bacon, J. (2018). Five Suggestions For Conducting Effective Performance Reviews. Forbes. Retrieved from forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/11/15/five-suggestions-for-conducting-effective-performance-reviews/?sh=243c10932583

  3. Virtual E-Book: The Definitive Guide to Performance Management. BambooHR. Retrieved from https://www.bamboohr.com/virtual-ebook/the-definitive-guide-to-performance-management/

  4. Cespedes, F. (2022) How to conduct a Great Performance Review. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2022/07/how-to-conduct-a-great-performance-review


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