The annual review is the fifth step to the employee review cycle; however, to complete this step, we must focus on the fourth step which is assessment. If you ask anyone who has been a manager of employees, they will say assessment is the hardest part of the review cycle for at least a couple of reasons. One reason is managers are required to fairly assess their employees. And, managers are required to remember what their employees did throughout the review cycle.
Being open and honest:
Just as every manager has their favorite or "go to" employees, they also have those employees who will kiss up to them to stay in favored grace, without doing as much work. As a manager, it is important to be open and honest with all your employees, at all times. Completing the review is no different. Don’t lie or leave out details on the review that may seem negative, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. If their performance is suffering, then they should know. The worst thing you can do as a manager is to give an employee a glowing review, only to go to HR in three weeks to discuss terminating this employee for performance. Unless something has changed since you gave this employee the review, there is a good chance you will be stuck with him or her until the proper documentation has been completed.
Giving employees a review that is not truthful, does not allow employees an opportunity to learn and grow. If you give an average employee a review that is better than what he or she earned, he or she will likely continue to be average. Tell the truth and inspire them to be more than average. If you give a superstar an average review, his or her intentions to seek out another job where his or her talents are recognized, may likely increase.
It has been said, hindsight is 20/20, but when it comes to year-end reviews, most managers can only see the last couple of weeks of an employee’s performance. So you could say, when it comes to managers evaluating their employees, they are nearsighted. We have all fallen victim to this type of performance review. The sad part is, the good employees did great things all year long and disengaged employees did nothing all year long, but wake up from the dead when review season comes around. Successful managers find ways to help remember what their employees did all year.
One old school method of keeping track of good and errant things that happen during the year is to keep a file in your desk of things that happened. Today, the same thing can be done electronically using MS word or Excel. Your HR department will love you if have notes on things that happened during the year. You can also either develop a performance plan, or justify giving an employee a higher-than-average review.
In today’s technically advanced society, there are software programs that let you and your employees create, track and evaluate employee performance in real-time throughout the year, which makes the whole process quick and simple.
In many companies, the annual evaluation is directly tied to compensation. This tie makes doing reviews correctly even more important. Most companies have very tight budgets when it comes to compensation and merit increases and the percentages between good and bad employees may not be that different. Think about how your superstars feel or react if they get the same or similar merit increase as Tommy "the office clown." By keeping track of the good and bad, it will be easier to justify giving an exception. If budgets are tight and your company is basically doing a cost of living increase, then it may be necessary to figure out other ways to reward your superstar. Sometimes, a company giving an extra merit increase can be justified with giving the employee more responsibility. A much harder decision could be made to give your rock stars raises and not reward your slackers at all.
Don’t wait until the review is due to start thinking about this process. If you have several employees to review, this will make this process daunting and leads to nearsightedness in completing the review. Start planning now for the next cycle. As you look at completing your employee reviews, think about the steps involved and plan to create a process allowing you to better review your employees in the future. Just as you don’t like to get an average review, neither do your employees.