When performance review time rolls around, some managers brace themselves for an uncomfortable encounter. Those who perform well deserve kudos, but how about those who are more challenging? If it’s going to be a negative review, employers often dread an employee’s reaction that can range from simple push back, to tears, to a more heated confrontation. Giving employees their reviews can certainly can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be so painful if you keep a few suggestions in mind.

1. Avoid Surprises – A performance review is not the time to spring a surprise on someone. That can really create anxiety and the employee won’t hear anything you say after you bring it up. Rather, it’s a time to check in on situations that you’ve already discussed. So, the key here is to talk about an employee’s behavior or performance periodically so they will have a general idea of the topics that will be touched upon in their review.

2. Don’t Judge – This can be a tricky one because it can depend on how you word things. Try to stick with just the facts without adding an emotion or judgment about it. For example it’s more constructive to say something such as, “You interrupted others in the meeting and so not everyone got to speak”; instead of “You talked too much during the meeting”; It might help you to practice expressing these insights before the review.

3. Talk About the Outcome – Following the example above, make sure the person getting the review knows the ramifications of the behavior you’re discussing. It helps for them to understand the outcome — which could range from getting complaints from clients, to going over budget, to misunderstandings within the team.

4. Be A Mentor – Your role as a manager is to help your team grow and be given a chance to do better. Threats or punishments won’t really cut it if you want your team to stay motivated and work toward improving their performance. You’ll have a better outcome when the review is a true discussion not a dressing down. Really listen and find out what the person’s goals are. Perhaps they need to move to a different role or department; they might even shed light on a situation that you didn’t know about.

5. Welcome Suggestions – Try to wrap up the performance review by posing a question back to the employee. Ask for their input as to what their plans are for correcting the issues discussed, and the best way they want to handle it. That way, you’re giving them accountability and allowing them to feel supported and part of the solution. These are just a few of the tips that can help employers be more confident and at ease about performance reviews.

If you’ d like more support and more ideas, contact us. We’re here to help.

MassHire Cape & Islands Career Center 508-771-JOBS (5627) 

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