A 2022 study performed by researchers at Harvard and Berkeley shows that 86% of people want to receive feedback, but only 48% are willing to deliver it. We're here to help you overcome that barrier and start using constructive feedback in your performance review meetings to empower your team and “aid learning and performance.”
Keep reading to learn how to structure and go through a performance review meeting to motivate your employees to grow rather than overwhelming or upsetting them with criticism.
What is a performance review meeting?
A performance review meeting is a two-way conversation between a manager and an employee to assess employee performance, development, and growth. It's also a chance to celebrate their progress and highlight how they add value to the organization.
An SHRM survey showed that 57% of people who receive an annual review feel like they have to compete with their coworkers. Jennifer Currence and Art Jackson noted that “the traditional annual review tends to promote favoritism, inconsistency, abrupt swings between leniency and severity, and recency bias”. A solution to this problem is changing your reviewing mindset and increasing their frequency – even up to every 30-90 days.
Performance reviews should be part of a broader employee development strategy. Next to one-on-ones, goal-setting sessions, feedback surveys, and employee engagement conversations, they'll give you a clear picture of how your team is progressing – and the company as a whole with them.
How to conduct a performance review meeting
Prepare for the performance review meeting
Start by gathering and analyzing performance data, notes, and examples. Having facts to back up your opinions makes you more trustworthy, unbiased, and compelling.
Make sure to use the same performance review process for all employees. A standardized structure helps you stay on a clear path and ensures you're treating everyone fairly. You can use our templates to structure your meetings
At the same time, leave some space for trial and error. The same framework might not work for a graphic designer and content marketer at first – the key is to find a structure that fits everyone on your team, with space to focus on their specific capabilities.
It's equally important to prepare the employee, too. They should have sufficient time to prepare for their performance review conversation. Otherwise, the performance review can have opposite results, leaving them overwhelmed and upset. Before the meeting takes place, do this:
- Explain the process: Be open with the team about why you want to implement regular performance reviews and what you hope to achieve with this. Make sure you're on the same page and explain how the employees can profit from a performance appraisal individually.
- Create a meeting agenda: Let everyone know what points you want to touch on and what they should prepare, e.g., a self-evaluation, talking points, questions, notes, or specific examples. Give everyone the chance to ask questions and give suggestions.
- Schedule the meeting in advance: Employees should have sufficient time to prepare, organize their workload, and set aside time in the day for this conversation. Such clarity eliminates stress and promotes a feeling of safety.
- Tell the employees what they can expect: Walk each team member through what the conversation will look like, how long it will take, and what you're going to discuss – whether during a one-on-one or a group meeting is up to you.
Keep it positive, constructive, and specific
Start by asking yourself exactly what you consider good or poor performance. List specific criteria you will evaluate, like:
- Meeting job-specific goals
- Quality of work
- Productivity and efficiency
- Teamwork and communication skills
- Problem-solving and decision-making
- Initiative and innovation
- Attendance and punctuality
- Ethical conduct
You might be familiar with Dr. David Cooperrider's “Appreciative Inquiry” method. It's all about starting with positive feedback and focusing on questions rather than demands. Research shows that this strengths-based approach from managers positively impacts both subordinates’ in-role and extra-role performance.
Image source: HelpfulProfessor.com
Once you list the employee's strengths and successes, move on to the areas for improvement. When delivered correctly (i.e., without judgment, blame, and comparisons to others), constructive criticism can clarify expectations, give a fresh perspective to problems, and improve morale as well as performance.
Image source: HelpfulProfessor.com
To take your performance evaluation to the next level, always provide specific examples of situations that prove what you're saying. This makes you more trustworthy and convincing and provides a clear picture to the listener.
Encourage open dialogue
We've mentioned that a review meeting can't just be a one-way conversation about the employee's performance. Once you've mentioned all the talking points on your list, ask about their perspective.
If you're unsure what are the right performance review questions to ask, here are some examples:
- What accomplishments in your recent work are you most proud of?
- What are your goals for the next quarter or month?
- Did you recently encounter any obstacles in your work?
- How can I improve as your manager?
Ensure that both the employee and yourself are feeling heard and understood. This is your chance to shine with your active listening skills, emotional maturity, and empathy.
Create a personal development plan and schedule a follow-up
The conversation should always end with an actionable to-do list for both the manager and the employee. These are helpful tips that will show you the way forward – keep them specific and achievable. This is a good time to schedule the next performance review meeting, where you will go over the list you've created.
Performance review meetings: How can Effy AI help?
Don't worry if all that sounds overwhelming. You can use performance review software like Effy AI to make things easier for yourself. It's the fastest way to conduct employee reviews effortlessly. This tool includes the following features that help you save time:
- Customizable templates for monthly, quarterly, and annual performance reviews
- Automated reminders
- Feedback anonymization and access level management
- Possibility to fill in reviews directly from Slack
- AI-generated review summary report
It's an entirely self-service product that doesn't need any technical or HR experience. You can additionally use it for:
- 360-degree feedback
- New employee probation period
- Promotion or role changes
- Formal performance reviews
- Major project milestones assessments
Why should you conduct performance reviews?
Performance feedback (especially when done frequently) gives both you and your employees benchmarks on their progress. The main benefits of regular employee performance reviews include:
- Ensuring mutual understanding
- Setting a positive tone
- Motivating employees to keep improving
- Setting clear standards for the future
- Encouraging perpetual growth (both individually and for the company)
- Highlighting achievements and potential
- Contributing to higher overall performance
What happens in a performance review meeting?
Performance reviews allow employees and their managers to discuss accomplishments, goals, and areas for improvement.
What should I say in my performance review meeting?
Provide specific feedback on the employee's professional growth, strengths, and weaknesses. Discuss goals and expectations that will help them improve their future performance. Offer your support and encourage open communication. Include some questions about how you can improve your own performance.
How do you prepare for a performance review meeting?
Gather data on the employee's job performance, review their goals, and be ready to provide constructive feedback on how to improve. Set clear expectations for the future and discuss their aspirations.
What do you discuss in a performance meeting?
Give concrete examples of the employee's past performance: achievements, strengths, negative behaviors, etc. Provide actionable feedback, set expectations, and offer support to guide them in the right direction moving forward.
What not to say in a performance review meeting?
When having a performance review conversation, avoid making personal attacks or using vague criticism. Don't focus on the negatives; instead, provide constructive feedback, start with the positives, and back everything up with facts.