Instead of embracing the situation to help improve performance and achieve goals, everyone is dreading their performance review. This is one of the most stressful times of the year for employees; they foresee being told all of the ways they are letting their employer down despite their hard work and long hours.

Performance reviews tend to be counter-productive and encourage tears, anger, confusion, and frustration in the worst cases. Reviews should be thought of as an essential process bringing forth encouragement that will point employees in the right direction. In fact, a U.S. poll from San Francisco consulting firm, Achievers, revealed that 98% of staff find annual performance reviews unnecessary. So, why is there such a negative connotation associated with the subject and what can we do to make it sting a little less for both employees and supervisors?

Don’t Catch Employees Off Guard

There should be a prompt and honest communication policy in the workplace. For example, if Megan is late to work every week for 3 months, this should be brought up in a timely manner. Waiting until the next performance review to bring up an issue isn’t ideal.

  • An employee won’t have time to correct their shortcomings before a formal review.
  • A supervisor could potentially build up resentment toward the employee.

The entire duration of the previous review to the current review should be acknowledged, not just recent negative events. The employee will feel more at ease knowing where they stand and what they can expect.

Keep it Professional

A performance review is intended to be professional. Don’t bring negative emotions, feelings, or a bad mood to a performance review. Reviews should begin with a clear head and the willingness to accept, or give, feedback in a non-defensive manner.

…But Not Too Professional

A review is already extremely draining for an employee. Adding an intimidation factor of an overly structured environment may not allow them to express everything that needs to be addressed. Find a balance between comfortable and professional.

Don’t Focus on the Negative

Everyone has areas they can improve on in the workplace. If a review is tailored solely around negativity, an employee will leave feeling unmotivated, deflated, and uninspired, which is never the intention of a performance evaluation. Everyone also has areas that they excel in. Don’t forget about these!

Constructive feedback and negative feedback are two different things.

  • Constructive feedback points out flaws and gives the correct information and tools to address them in a positive manner.
  • Negative feedback highlights flaws without giving the correct tools to succeed. Think of this as a put-down.

Avoid switching from negative feedback to positive feedback. This may come across as dishonest and manipulative.

Get Excited About the Future

Employees want to feel inspired by what they’re doing and they want to feel excited about new things to come. A review is a good time to talk about the things they enjoy doing, their career path moving forward, and how they can achieve their goals.

Employers should try to maximize their employees’ happiness and give them the tools they need to succeed. Let the employees talk about what areas they want to dive deeper in and what they want to pursue.

As a manager, don’t be afraid to talk about company goals and ideas. This can help your employees feel included in the big picture.

Know Your Audience

A manager generally has a thorough idea of who their employees are and what their personalities are like. Not only are they managing employees, but they are managing employees’ personalities too.

Adapting to each individual’s personality is important when it comes time to give a performance review. What might work for one person won’t work for another. Some people are playful, others are sensitive, assertive, passive, diplomatic, etc.

Taking the time to get to know each personality and communicating accordingly can build trust, respect, and long-lasting working relationships.