Question: What's one important thing to remember when putting together employee performance reviews for the first time?
"There's a top-down and bottom-up approach to reviews. I'm a fan of bottom-up reviews, since coworkers often know more about one another's work ethic than "the boss" does. The best thing I ever did was including myself on the anonymous ballot, allowing my team to assess me as a leader. It created more of an equal playing field and gave me insights into things I was doing really ineffectively."
Ask if They Met Expectations After 90 Days
"If your hiring process was thorough, an evaluation process should be as well. We monitor program associates based on categories and whether they still require supervision, no supervision or have the ability to train others. If after 90 days we see a lot of tasks in the "no supervision" or "training capable" category, we know we have a rockstar employee and will increase pay or offer a contract. "
Reverse the Roles
"Don't forget: the leader is the one who ultimately guides the vision and culture of the company. Too often, entrepreneurs evaluate employees but forget that if it's the boss who is doing a bad job, no one can ever live up to expectations. So, have every employee evaluate his direct report (dead honesty is essential) on what he loves, hates and wishes would improve. It's powerful."
Speak and Listen
"Remember that it’s important to make reviews bi-directional. Give team members an opportunity to offer their own feedback, and be sure to ask as much as you tell."
Solicit Feedback From Employees
"Be sure to include a section for employee comments, and insist that your team members respond. Reviews are often viewed by staff members as a time when they find out everything they're doing wrong, but it doesn't have to be that way. Discuss the employee's comments during the review, and be sure to give him ample opportunity to have his voice heard."
Focus on Growth
"The fact that your employees chose to work at a startup instead of a huge corporation likely means they're adventurous risk-takers by nature. This employee type is often focused on personal growth, tackling new challenges and learning new tasks. When evaluating performance, be forward-thinking in your feedback and explain how today's tasks are building toward tomorrow's responsibilities."
"Employee reviews are an important piece of company culture and human capital management, but the first time you implement them, they can be extremely nerve-wracking for your team. Be very communicative and transparent about reviews at the start and throughout the process. That will help reduce fear and make the process most helpful to get real feedback."
Automate Performance Reviews and Save Resources
"Most managers tend to put performance reviews toward the bottom of their priority lists. Tools like automated performance reviews are useful for saving resources. They can track progress, show goals and provide recognition in a timely manner. Managers can see who’s doing what well, what needs more work and how to assign goals in the future -- all in real time as opposed to once a year."
Look at the Big Picture
"No one likes to be reviewed as if they're back in school and being reprimanded for not doing homework. The performance review should be a healthy feedback mechanism, fair and balanced, while being honest and direct. Questions should make them think deeper and provide a big picture, such as their biggest accomplishment, top goal for the next review period and their contribution to company's growth. "
Evaluate the Intangibles
"Go beyond evaluating whether the job is getting done. Is their style building trust or eroding it? Is their process creating stress for others? Is their behavior lined up with the company's core values? Addressing the intangibles can foster alignment, enhance team fulfillment and build capacity for the long term. "