3 major things you should never do when conducting a performance review

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Conducting a performance review is an essential element in any business structure – whether it’s as a part of a workforce of one, or one thousand. There are key mistakes, however, that otherwise experienced HR professionals make that can seriously undermine the productivity of a performance review.

Here are three things you should never do as a part of conducting a performance review, in order to achieve the maximum possible returns in employee development.

1. Lack the essential preparation

As with everything, a successful performance review depends on preparation. You doubtless expect your employee to come prepared; it’s common courtesy and an opportunity to lead by example for you to do the same.

Begin by understanding what the goal of the performance review is. Take into account the parameters by which you’re going to evaluate performance metrics, and collate them in advance to give you a clear picture of the given employee’s current situation. Have a rough idea before the performance review even begins what sort of recommendations you’re going to make as a result of your findings. This will keep the review timely and concise.

If you fail to adequately prepare for the performance review, you’re ultimately going to be wasting a valuable opportunity for you and your employees to improve in a number of key areas. Lack of preparation renders a performance review as little more than a waste of your time. So prepare well in advance.


2. Sugar coat potentially difficult truth

The performance review is your opportunity to have a frank, honest, and open discussion with employees regarding the nature of their work. Remember that improvements cannot be made unless you’re as straightforward as possible.

It may be hard to tell an employee that they’re doing something wrong, or that they could be making improvements in core areas of their work. But, they’re never going to address those mistakes unless you highlight them. Remember that if an employee knows that something is not right, they will likely have made the effort to fix it already. So if you spot areas where clear improvement is needed, it’s up to you to highlight them as clearly as you can.

This is where tone is everything. It’s so easy to damage employee confidence by addressing issues inelegantly. You should aim to speak clearly, and in as straightforward a manner as possible. Say what you have to say, but take the time to reassure the employee that you are there to help them improve. Then discuss your options moving forward.


3. Ignore feedback from your team

Just like improving team productivity, opening your ears and listening to feedback forms an essential part of any performance review. It’s essential that you’re willing to listen to the experience and feedback that’s coming from the other side of the table. Show them the same courtesy you expect them to show you.

A performance review is a two-way street. This is an employee’s opportunity to discuss key elements of their work – whether it be the job itself, a management decision or style, company culture, or any other aspect of their employment with which they’re not entirely happy. It can be difficult to hear criticism, but it’s an essential element of improving the overall quality of the workplace and employee happiness, so it must be faced head on.

Take on the feedback you receive – make a point to show the employee that you’re making notes of the feedback they’re giving you. Invest some time in discussing these pain points, and determining what the appropriate resolution can be that will make both parties happy. Employer performance is always under review too.
What are the consequences for making these mistakes?

If you fail to address these points and allow yourself to make these mistakes when conducting a performance review, you’re going to seriously damage the positive effect the review can have. It’s your opportunity to learn with employees about where both they and the business can make positive steps in the way they work.

You can also run the risk of damaging employee morale. If you allow yourself to come off as unprepared or uninterested in the employee, they will rapidly lose the desire to offer you their best. This can mean work starts becoming sloppy, standards begin to slip, and it becomes even harder to make positive steps forward.

A performance review is an essential part of employee development, so it’s highly important you take pains to avoid making these three common, yet highly damaging, mistakes when conducting them.



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