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7 Ways to Conduct an Effective Performance Review

Written by Sirmara Campbell Twohill, Chief Human Resources Officer at LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm.

Performance reviews often go one of two ways:

1.Positive: An employee leaves the review feeling motivated, challenged, and supported. They know what they are doing well and the areas they need to improve in and how to do so.

2. Negative: An employee feels scrutinized, dejected and picked on. They become introverted and negative. The feedback paralyzes them and they revert back to old habits.

Obviously, the goal is to have every review, every time be positive, at least as defined by the definition above…but this is clearly not the case: According to Bloomberg, one in four employees dreads their performance review more than anything else in their working lives.

So what can managers do to ensure performance reviews are positive and productive and that their employees are receptive to feedback? Here are a few tips:

Over-prepare – Never conduct a performance review without proper preparation. A good rule of thumb is to have a set list of questions that will be addressed. Have the employee complete the questions a few days in advance, then review them, making notes about any areas of concern, questions or discrepancies you’d like to discuss during the review.

Address the elephant in the room – If you didn’t know, you do now….Many employees dread their performance reviews… address that! Before kicking off the meeting, ask them how they are feeling, talk through their nerves, explain the format of the review and make sure they know it’s a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings.

Sandwich feedback – If you’ve ever received constructive criticism, you know it can sometimes be hard to swallow, especially if it’s not delivered the right way. Sandwiching negative feedback between positive feedback helps ensure the message is heard. Diving straight into negative feedback can cause the employee to become defensive, shutting down to what you are saying.

Bring concrete examples – Reviews are a great opportunity to highlight an employee’s success, as well as provide feedback on things they need to improve upon. When providing constructive criticism, be specific and use examples, not generalizations. If an employee struggles with time management, share missed deadlines…Then discuss ways to improve, and if necessary, the consequences if they don’t.

Ask the hard questions – Employees don’t always feel comfortable voicing their questions or concerns…as their manager; it’s your job to address these. Ask if they are happy. Ask what they like or don’t like about their role. Ask what you can be doing better as their manager. Want to hear the bad news so you can work through it.

Pick up on body language and word choice – A lot can be said non-verbally. If an employee has their arms crossed, becomes defensive or says something that raises a red flag, say something! This helps ensure that issues that may seem minor now don’t become large problems down the road.

Follow up – Put the onus on the employee to send a recap of the performance review to ensure everyone is on the same page with what was discussed and what needs to be done moving forward….then actually read the recap, compare it with your notes and if there are any discrepancies, address them.

Sirmara Campbell Twohill is Chief Human Resources Officer at LaSalle Network and has over 15 years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry, starting her career at LaSalle Network shortly after its inception in 1998. Twohill has been involved in the planning and execution of nearly all LaSalle’s new initiatives in the last 15 years, including most recently, compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Highlights of Twohill’s accomplishments include a Field Employee benefit plan, a rare and differentiating service in the staffing industry, and creation and implementation of a detailed onboarding program for new hires to ensure a smooth transition into LaSalle Network employment. Twohill is certified as a professional in human resource whose expertise lies in helping LaSalle Network maintain a healthy and productive company culture. In addition to her human resources responsibilities, Twohill handles all LaSalle Network operations functions, including best practice procedures, in order for LaSalle to operate at a high level of efficiency, quality and professionalism. Twohill has a BA from Columbia College Chicago.

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