#BGB Tutorial- Keeping Performance Reviews (Relatively) Painless

by Chris Farnell · 9 comments

Give a painless performance review
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It’s that time again…

What time?

Why… time for a new post, you whipper snapper! 

This guest post is brought to you courtesy of Chris Farnell.

Chris is generously donating his point of view regarding keeping those inevitable uncomfortable moments that come with being a small business owner mostly pain free and a heck of a lot more comfy.

If you yourself run a small business and have employees or outsourced help, you know what I’m screamin’ here.

In this particular case, the uncomfy feeling stems from giving performance reviews to your hired help. Giving people feedback can be messy. I’d even go so far as to say it can suck royally.

However, if you have a few tricks up your sleeve like Chris here, you can skip the suck-o part and actually emerge from the other side feeling good about a review well done. Keep reading whipper snapper, and then share what you learned in the comments below. 

If your business employs people, sooner or later you’re going to have to review their performance. For this to be worthwhile, you need to be able to give your employees an honest appraisal of their strengths and weaknesses.

This can be tough, particularly for a small business where you and your employees are working closely together every day. However, there are a few basic tips that can help you to get through the process with the minimum of pain.

Keep It Professional

Performance reviews should be professional, which means a certain amount of formality is a good idea. This isn’t the time to ask how your employees’ kids are doing. Tell them what the performance review is supposed to achieve, then do it.

Keep the discussion structured and focused- an employee appraisal form is a good way of keeping that structure in place. There will be time to chat later.

Time It Well

The end of the year seems like a natural time to look back and take stock of your employees’ performance, right? After all, it’s a good chance to reflect on what’s gone by before your staff goes on holiday, ready to come back refreshed and improved ready for the New Year.

This philosophy is great, providing your staff doesn’t have anything to do. Most companies, surprisingly enough, actually have more work to do in the mad dash to get everything complete before the holidays. A better move is to get the review out of the way earlier in the year, preferably not before any tight deadlines.

Be Specific

It’s an old saying that there are no bad dogs. While the same thing might not be entirely true of employees, simply telling someone their performance is poor- or even that their performance is good, is not going to help them or you.

Keep your feedback as specific as possible, referring to things the employee in question does, not things that they are. When saying that an employee makes a habit of something, make sure you can name specific incidents when it has happened.

This means that preparation is a key part of doing an employee appraisal. Throughout the year, keep track of incidents that you may want to refer back to. Make a note of the date, what happened and who was involved.

Feedback is an Ongoing Process

You shouldn’t store these notes up to ambush your employee with later, however. Feedback should be an ongoing process throughout the year.

When your employee goes into an appraisal, he or she should have a good idea of what to expect and what issues you will be raising. Giving them a nasty surprise won’t help change their behaviour.

FYI- You are the One Giving the Feedback

There will also be times when the feedback you give is based on things that other employees have told you. While gossip is the very best fun, if you want your business to be a pleasant environment it’s important that you take responsibility for the feedback you’re giving.

Verify the accuracy of anything you hear from other employees, and when you talk to the employee about it, make sure they know that the feedback is coming from you, not somebody else in the office.

Take the Good with the Bad

With regards to the feedback itself, balance the positive and the negative. This isn’t an opportunity to dress an employee down and tell them everything they’re doing wrong. You should be using this as a chance to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the company as well. By the same token, employee appraisal is a tool that you should use with everyone in the company.

If you have an employee who is doing well and doesn’t seem to have any areas of improvement that doesn’t mean you should skip their appraisal. Far from it, it’s worth sitting them down to tell them how well their doing, and encourage them to keep it up.

At the other end of the spectrum, don’t just tell your weaker employees where they’re going wrong- offer them possible solutions. Give them things they can do that might improve matters.

Finally, bear in mind that an employee appraisal is a discussion, not a lecture. Listen to how your employee responds to the feedback, and also give them an opportunity to raise their own concerns.

Alright whipper snapper… if you liked this post, you know my request here. Please share it with your pals, like it on Facebook, Tweet it on Twitter, Toodle it on Toggle (OK I’m kidding on that last one… no idea if there is a toodle to toggle in cyberspace) and in general make a little noise. It’s always appreciated.

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