If You’re Happy and You Know It, Write a Review.

Employee performance reviews are one of the most dreaded conversations we have with our clients. Most business owners and managers hate doing them because they put people in the awkward position of giving an employee direct and specific criticism in a face-to-face meeting. They are tough conversations to have with employees that are struggling in certain areas of their job, but they are some of the most critical conversations to have to get everyone rowing in the same direction.  

The biggest mistake a business owner can make is to think, “My employees know they are doing a good job unless I say otherwise, so I don’t give regular reviews.” Unfortunately, your employees cannot read your mind. I know things would be SO much easier if they could. However, they do not know what you are thinking unless you tell them. People need to hear feedback – both good and bad – so that they know where they stand with their manager. In interviewing thousands of people for every job from reception to COO, the biggest criticism I have heard about reviews is that they don’t happen often enough. This means either reviews were not done at all, or the negative feedback the employee received in the review came several months after an incident and they didn’t know they had done anything wrong. Despite how you may feel about giving negative feedback, employees like to be told what they are doing wrong so that they don’t continue to do it that way.

Positive feedback is just as important, if not more important for higher performers as negative feedback in the review.   If you give feedback to an employee and only tell them about all the things they are doing wrong, it’s likely they will leave that meeting feeling complete dejected. They may think they are doing a terrible job because you have only given them things that are doing wrong. Positive feedback softens the blow of criticism and even though it is cliché, the compliment sandwich works well in these scenarios.

Many of our clients ask us for a specific format for how reviews should be given, and the short answer is that there is no magic bullet. Employee reviews need to be tailored to the business, the owner, and the people giving the reviews. There is no “one size fits all.” However here are some key items that work in many situations:

  1. Conduct reviews on a regular schedule – preferably two or more times per year. We suggest you not associate them with raises or bonuses. They should be independent of these events.
  2. Lay out expectations for your employees and review them based on those criteria.
  3. Reviews should not be an “Airing of grievances.”
  4. Before giving the review, call the employee’s attention to your complaint so they have time to correct it. Employees should not be shocked in the review by negative feedback.
  5. After the review, employees should know where they stand with you and what they need to improve.

TSI can help you construct, write, and communicate employee reviews in a manner that will be positive for your entire team. If you would like to discuss how we might be able to help your firm, feel free to schedule a call using this link.

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