After the Performance Review: Preparing for the Year Ahead

 At their best, performance reviews should be the start of a two-way dialogue that will last the entire year. Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge that the performance review — while important — is a moment in time over the course of a year. One conversation is unlikely to change the course of history, so decide what groundwork to lay, and be prepared to return to those points on a regular basis moving forward.
  • Many factors, both personal and professional, impact the performance of a long-time employee. Keep your focus on overall impact and the general trajectory over time.
  • Give frequent informal feedback through quick check-ins after meetings or projects. This should include some comments about what went well, and what could benefit from a course correction, with the reason for the course correction.
  • Honestly acknowledge what the employee can control — and consider the organization’s or team’s role in either supporting or detracting from the person’s success. Consider the roadblocks that the person may need your help to remove over time.
  • In addition to informal conversations, schedule follow-up conversations on a regular basis — monthly or quarterly — depending on the performance level and pace of work. For each of these, have a plan for the conversation, be on time, schedule enough time and minimize interruptions and distractions.

When receiving feedback in a performance review setting, here are some tips:

  • Be objective about your own strengths and weaknesses, and how they may be impacting your own work and the relationship. Knowing yourself may help you hear feedback in a different way.
  • Being honest and open about what you yourself plan to do differently moving forward — your vulnerability is likely to cultivate vulnerability and honesty in others as well.
  • Listen, listen, listen. Many employees long for more feedback about their work, and for some, the review is the only time they get it in a formal way. Listen, ask questions, and then follow-up so that the conversation can continue after the meeting.

Both raters and receivers are vital partners in the performance appraisal discussion, and both players have the power to make it a richer conversation. Prepare, listen, and connect!