Benchmark Business Group

3 Tips for Improving Employee Reviews

May 26, 2020

Clients and prospects often ask us how to improve employee performance reviews. How a small business conducts performance reviews varies widely from not doing them at all, to conducting them sporadically, to holding them annually.

Regardless of how often they are held, employee reviews should be a productive conversation without any unwelcome surprises. To set you and your employees up for thoughtful, results-oriented reviews consider these three tips:

Implement UpSide Down Meetings – To optimize the results of your performance reviews implement weekly or bi-monthly UpSide Down (USD) Meetings in your business. USD Meetings are regularly scheduled meetings between a manager and an employee that follow a structured agenda. These agendas are based on the results that a position is expected to reach and any red flags they might encounter throughout their work. USD Meetings are led by employees and allow them to take ownership of the results they are achieving on a more consistent basis than the usual annual performance review.

The truth is, most performance reviews point out areas for improvement, but it is often another full year before the topic is discussed again. To see real improvement there needs to be a plan with opportunities to discuss progress, barriers, and celebrate small successes. USD Meetings provide a set time and structure that will allow for real change, allowing employees to thrive.

Use Your Position Descriptions – Too often, employee performance reviews are vague and the same from position to position. A great performance review should use a detailed job description as the structure for evaluation. This ensures that the evaluation is based on the exact job duties and standards that are expected by that position.

Don’t Make them About Raises – Many small businesses mark annual performance reviews with an automatic raise. Sometimes that raise is based on performance, but often it is based on the length of employment. The problem that occurs is that the raise, which should be based off results, becomes an expectation. The performance review becomes secondary. If you are going to do annual raises, try separating the conversation about performance and the raise. However, we encourage all business owners to rethink their raises and consider ways to tie them to actual performance of the employee and business.

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