According to recent research from the Society for Human Resource Management, most companies do performance evaluations annually. But giving employees feedback more often can make the process easier and more effective as well, according to a study by Rice University. Here are six tips for effective mid-year performance reviews.
Start with a Plan
Before the meeting, review past performance plans to see if there’s an ongoing issue that needs a more intense improvement plan — such as a 30- or 60-day plan that focuses on just that aspect and requires concrete, measurable improvement or imposes stronger consequences. If there aren’t any performance issues, simply outline areas the employee should focus on to advance professionally, and then discuss goals with the employee during the review.
Take a Broad View
Reviews should focus on all aspects of performance. That could include include feedback on attendance, how well the employee works with others, how they complete assigned tasks, whether they take initiative, their knowledge base, time management skills and any other performance metrics you measure. Evaluate each performance petric individually and make notes on areas that need the greatest improvement.
Ideally, you’ve prepared for the performance review by taking notes about the employee’s performance since the last review. Tracking performance, both good and not so good, means you need to be taking notes or filling out a log regularly throughout the performance period. Having specific facts and examples about an employee’s performance makes it easier for the employee to understand your point of view.
Any performance review should be carefully documented. If the mid-year review is serving as a checkpoint for the employee, documenting the meeting can provide an easy reference for course correction. Keep mid-year review documentation — forms and rankings — consistent with your annual review process; inconsistent reviews can be confusing to employees.
These documents, which track an employee’s performance over time, can be vital in case of a termination. An accurate, objective process ensures that everyone is on the same page. If you fire someone who’s had excellent performance ratings over time, that can send a contradictory message in case of an unemployment hearing or EEOC claim.
Highlight what the employee is doing well, then touch on what needs to be improved. Try to avoid negative words such as “deficiencies.” Showing employees that there are paths for improvement and that the employer is willing to help them can make the process open and supportive. Being friendly but factual can make the mid-year performance review effective.
Avoid Common Mistakes
When writing a performance review, remember that consistency and honesty are key for it to be useful. Here are some common mistakes we’ve seen managers make:
- The halo/horn effect. Don’t base a review on one positive or negative characteristic; it doesn’t give the employee a complete picture of their performance.
- The recency effect. Avoid giving more weight to recent occurrences or issues and discounting earlier performance. Keep track of performance throughout the year.
- Leniency. When managers don’t want to give employees low scores in particular areas, the result is an employee who thinks their performance is excellent across the board. This typically doesn’t provide an accurate picture of performance or areas for improvement.
- Central tendency effect. If you have a system that uses a 1-5 scale, it can be tempting to simply assign a “3” and move on to get through the pile. That doesn’t help either the employee or the organization; take time and be honest.
- Bias. Stay objective when writing a performance review. The feedback should be based on factual evidence and not influenced by emotions.
- Linking it to salary. If you link performance reviews to salary increases, employees may think that these increases are automatic after an adequate review. Keeping salary increases separate from performance reviews allows employers to be flexible with compensation.
By ensuring the mid-year review is thorough and fair, employees will be able to use any feedback they get to manage their own performance until the next assessment.
Contact us for help establishing a performance review schedule that works for your company.
HR Solutions is a human resources outsourcing firm based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We eliminate human resources headaches for businesses with 10 to 1,000 employees by handling their payroll, employee benefits, regulatory compliance and other staffing needs. Contact us to learn how we can streamline your company’s human resources function to save money and reduce risk.