No matter how many times you go through the performance review process, it can still send chills down your spine or alternatively give you sweaty, clammy hands.
I know that even after all these years, I experience paroxysms of agony every time I know it’s time for review season.
While nothing is going to do away with the anxiety of the review process, if you are an anxious person by nature (if you are a cool cucumber, lucky you, you may already be acquainted with all these tips), these two performance management checklists, one for managers and one for employees can go a long way towards easing some of your worries.
Performance Management Checklist For Managers
Feedback sessions before the performance review
Continuous feedback in the time leading up to the performance review is absolutely a must. Whether they are formal or informal, your employee needs to be prepared to hear what you have to say and probably have a prior idea of what you think about their performance. The appraisal process shouldn’t hit the employee like a lightning bolt from nowhere. They are going to be flustered and in turn, you are going to feel awkward at the turn the review session has taken.
Set clear expectations
Clarity is good for everyone involved in the review process. Nobody is a mind reader, especially your employees. They cannot divine what you expect of them if you are not going to tell them or clearly lay out what is expected of them. Setting clear expectations not only pave the road ahead but also lets employees know what targets they should be focusing on.
Set goals and chart the future
When it comes to a review meeting, it is important for you and them to review their past goals and objectives and outline the goals and objectives you would like for them to tackle this year. This helps you figure out what skills they have learned, what aspects of their job they struggled with etc. Setting new goals is also an important aspect of performance reviews. You need to think about the future as well, not just the past. A performance appraisal is also a good time to discuss an employee’s future plans at the organization. Irrespective of whether those future plans will come to fruition or not, it’s good to discuss where the employee envisions himself two years down the line or so. It can help you and the employee chart out prospective goals, inter-departmental moves, new job descriptions, etc.
Also read: Goal-Setting – A Guide To Help Organizations Succeed Using OKRs
Record of past feedback
It’s always good to review the past feedback an employee has received (assuming you have collected some of that feedback in a place). This allows you to carry out a more nuanced review process rather than relying on just your memory. Never assume that you can rely on memory when it comes to performance reviews. Unless your memory is exceptionally good, it is impossible to remember everything, and more often than not, our memory tends to rely on the most recent memories of the person. And the most recent memories you have of a person are not always going to be representative of all the work they have done.
Be prepared to listen to feedback about yourself
A review process should not be a one-way street. When you share feedback about an employee’s performance, likewise employees too should be allowed to share feedback about your performance as a manager. After all, an employee’s performance also depends on how their manager leads them. And, it’s important to remember that the feedback might not always be palatable to you. But that does not mean that the feedback is any less valid. It’s, in fact, all the more important that you listen and try to understand what your employee wants to say.
Make hard decisions
Hard decisions are obviously not easy ones to make, but all the same, as a manager, you have a responsibility to your team and organization. If the performance review caps a year of bad performance, it’s time to let go of the employee, especially if you have already done all that you can to help them. It is important to remember that sometimes, the kindest thing you can do is let go of someone who is performing badly, no matter how fond you are of them.
Also read: Continuous Feedback – Establishing A Cadence
Performance Management Checklist For Employees
Do your homework
Like you would prepare for any other examination, you must also prepare for a performance review. Do not think you can wing it. Maybe you can, but performance reviews are an important aspect of your career. They decide your career trajectory and pay raise or a bonus etc. A lack of preparation for it, especially if your manager has already notified you about it, indicates that you are not very invested in the process.
Come prepared with facts and figures
Sometimes your manager might remember the specifics of all that you have done. Sometimes they might not. If you come to the review process armed with the right facts and figures, or proof of your work, it becomes easier for your manager to review your performance and adds more weight to the review.
You need to be mentally prepared to deal with all that the meeting throws at you. This means, that if you hear something you do not like, about your work, or the way you work, then you should be able to react calmly and rationally and get your point across, rather than getting angry, losing your temper or dissolving into tears. Emotions are not bad. However, they definitely do have their place and a performance review is not the place for them. You want your manager to continue thinking you are a competent adult. When you lose your emotions or explode, then you run the risk of distancing them.
A discussion about your future plans might be inevitable during a review process. Especially, if the review comes around at the end of the year. You should have at least some idea of what you want to work on. The idea in itself need not be concrete or set in stone. Maybe you want to switch roles. Maybe you want to tackle new challenges. Either way, having an idea will let your manager know that like him, you too are thinking ahead. Your manager might have his own set of goals prepared for you, but there’s no reason why you should not set a few goals of your own as well. These goals will give your manager a broader understanding of your work as well as your areas of expertise.
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