How to Have Real Job Performance Review Conversations

Most places spend once a year (if we’re lucky) focusing on employee development and giving feedback. It’s the time of year that everyone dreads as it’s viewed as added work piled onto the already immense amount you’ve got on your plate. And this work certainly isn’t easy. Dedicating time and thought to those around you in a real way is challenging. Conversations about performance are extremely important, which makes them intimidating to most managers. What you must remember is how impactful those types of conversations can be if you have them in the right way. Here’s what the right way looks like:

Honesty is the best policy. You need to be honest with employees job review about what they’re great at and what they could do to be even better. You don’t have to be a jerk about it. Skirting around any issues because you don’t want to be the bad guy isn’t helping anyone in the long run. Remember, your intent in job review conversations is to help make them better. Your role as a manager is to help your employees to want to face new challenges, not to fear any performance based conversation in the future.

How to Have Real Job Performance Review Conversations

Real time is the best time. That “time of year” I referred to above – it’s all the time. Is someone killing it in May? TELL THEM! And if someone’s slipping, address it immediately. Don’t wait for December or July or whatever time of year is designated by your employers for a job review. People need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly and they need to hear it in a timely fashion. This gives folks an opportunity to feel good and celebrate or to work on changes and grow instead of waiting for one specific time of year to focus on their performance.

Don’t be a robot (even though robots are pretty sweet). These conversations are “official” and “on the record.” Sometimes that trips you up as a manager or even a peer giving feedback. Simply because something is important or even official does not mean you need to speak differently or behave in a way that isn’t typical to you. Quite frankly, giving negative feedback sucks for all parties involved. Feeling awkward or bad for yourself for having to deliver it is pretty ridiculous when you put yourself in the shoes of the person on the receiving end. Be you and be authentic if you want feedback to truly sink in.

Give it your all. People are incredibly perceptive. If you rush through your reviews and bang them all out in one night, employees will notice. Even if you have the best of intentions, it may come off as though you’re not prioritizing them or their careers. Take the time to do it right. Really think about the person, what motivates them, and how you can assist to push them to the next level. If you half ass it, either when writing or delivering, they’ll notice.

Believe it or not, you can make the difference in someone’s career. The most ineffective performance job review conversations of all are those that don’t happen. Because people are scared. Or busy. Or making up some other lame excuse. So do them and put your back into it. After all, it feels pretty damn good to witness a positive change in an employee and know you’ve had a part in it.

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Kelly Poulson

Kelly has spent her career helping people kick ass and become better versions of themselves. Coaching, training, recruiting – you name it, she’s done it, and in a variety of industries ranging from advertising to behavioral health to tourism and beyond. Be it supporting new managers in their journeys from uncertain supervisors to rock star bosses, helping lost newbies zero in on what they want from their careers and find their inner confidence to ask for (and receive) that promotion, or enabling leaders to be more self-aware in their management styles and more skillfully interact with those around them, she’s done it all. Outside of pushing to make people and organizations better, Kelly spends most of her time marathoning Netflix programming with her mutt, Dexter. Connect with Kelly.

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