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Idea Box: How to Review Employees
Employee reviews should not be a waste of time. If conducted properly, employee reviews can be an effective way to motivate workers and improve performance.

By Staff
Date Posted: 1/1/2014

                Too often, employee reviews are seen as nothing more than a task to check off a list and are done with little thought or intention, rendering them a waste of time at best and demotivating at worst. However, they can be an effective way to motivate employees to improve performance and recognize a job well done if they are carried out properly.



                Employee reviews should begin long before the scheduled meeting between a worker and manager. Reviews must be carefully prepared; if they are not, they will give little value to either the company or the employee. Substantial thought and preparation are key to conducting reviews that effectively deal with problems, motivate employees and keep them feeling engaged.

                Preparation should include:

                • Reviewing notes and documentation from the employee’s file that cover the period that is being reviewed as well as previous reviews.

                • Talking with direct supervisors of the employee, determining what the key message or goal is that needs to be conveyed to the employee.

                • Writing out an agenda of topics that need to be covered during the review.


During the Review

                When conducting an employee review, direct and specific language is essential. This is not the time for managers to beat around the bush or to avoid stating exactly what they mean. One of the manager’s top priorities should be to have an open discussion, not a one-way conversation. Avoid just assigning checks or Xs to a list and ask open questions to encourage workers to be involved and understand their view point on the issues being discussed.

                The following important subjects should be included in the discussion agenda:

                • Accomplishments, outstanding performance or strengths: If praise is deserved, give it. Make sure that workers know that their hard work is seen and appreciated.

                • Negative events or attitudes: These can’t be ignored or glossed over. Explain in a matter-of-fact way what the problems are and what needs to be done to correct them, emphasizing expected behaviors or actions.

                • Opportunities for improvement, growth or promotion: Make sure workers know about available training or other resources within the company, community or industry to expand their skill sets.

                • Goals for the coming six to 12 months: These goals should meet the “SMART” test. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-sensitive. This will ensure that they are not just vague ideas but are actually possible for the employee to measure and accomplish. 



                After a review, notes from the meeting should be filed for future reference. This should include what topics were discussed, responses from the worker and any stated goals. Begin tracking progress made on the set goals and periodically add notes to the personnel file throughout the next evaluation period.

                Although employee performance should be monitored on an ongoing basis, scheduling annual performance reviews ensures that management lets workers know what they are doing well on and what areas they need to improve in. If done effectively, they provide the impetus and the knowledge needed for employees to correct problems and meet management’s expectations.

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