15 Ways to Improve Performance Evaluations

Given that only 55 percent of employees feel performance reviews are effective, leaders and managers have to start asking themselves: What can we do to make them better?

Performance reviews and relevant feedback are essential to employee development and growth. Without them, workers wouldn't know whether or not they were doing a good job; as a result, the company would suffer immensely. It's imperative that you find the right techniques to make reviews and feedback valuable, but that's no easy task.

Below are 15 ways to enhance the performance review process like never before. Take a look:

1. Make (Face) Time

Email and software are great, but sometimes, employees need to see your face. Whether twice a year or twice a month, meet with each employee for about 15 minutes to discuss their personal performance metrics. Address issues, concerns, and expectations in order to fuel continued growth in defined areas.

2. Make It Personal

Give employees the autonomy to develop their own performance evaluation goals. Help them identify where they need to improve, how they can do it, and what targets they should aim for. Set a realistic timeline to help them achieve the goals they've set. It may be helpful to have employees create plans and share them with you so you can both understand how the goals will be handled.

3. Think Tech

Use tech to your advantage. There are multiple tools available to help manage goals, measure performance, provide feedback, and schedule evaluations. Tech can improve communication and boost collaboration, allowing you and your employees to work together to construct realistic goals.

4. Increase Frequency

We know that weekly evaluations aren't for everyone, but it's still a good idea to think about slowly increasing the frequency of feedback and evaluations. Find a cadence that works best for your company, and use face-to-face talks, group meetings, email, and your performance review system to ensure you stick to the regular schedule.

5. Be Negative – er, Corrective

Don't be afraid to tell your employees how it is. If they do something wrong, it's in both of your best interests to let them know. How can your employees grow if they don't know how to?

6. Be a Little Positive, Too

Being corrective doesn't mean you have to only give negative feedback. Positive feedback helps balance out the negative and puts the focus on moving forward together.

7. Watch What You Say

As with any communication, saying the wrong thing or projecting a certain attitude can disengage employees and cause complications in the future. Phrases like, "It's great, but ..." or "I think we should do this instead" can kill employee morale, weaken productivity, or worse.

8. Focus on Performance

One of the main issues when it comes to performance evaluation is that managers often fail to actually focus on performance. Without knowing it, managers can end up evaluating attitudes and personalities instead of employees' work!

Don't pay too close attention to how employees accomplish their work. Instead, base performance evaluations on major milestones and end results. You may not like that your designer sits in a corner and listens to music all day, but if they're producing logos that make clients happy, that's all that really matters for your business.

9. See What Employees Have to Say

While you're giving feedback, give your employees the chance to share some of their own thoughts, too. What do they have to say about your overall performance? Do they feel they have the resources and support they need to do their jobs? Soliciting feedback from employees will help you ensure you're on the right track.

10. Ask About Their Peers

Peer-to-peer feedback and evaluations can be very helpful in gaining truthful insights into  how employees work.

When you have a large team, however, it can be tedious to gather all this information. One way to make it easier is to set aside time during reviews to ask employees for their opinions on their coworkers. Who is influencing the workplace positively? Who is doing good work?

11. Start a Dialogue

An evaluation shouldn't be a manager's monologue. Rather, it needs to be a conversation. Go back and forth with ideas, opinions, and objectives that you think need the most attention. Make sure that both you and your employees are on the same page.

12. Be a Coach and a Leader

Talking things through ensures you are not forcing employees to "drink from a firehose," so to speak. Give workers ways they can improve and succeed in the future. Are they having problems in a certain area? See what advice you can give them.

13. Keep Notes

Keeping track of everyone on your team is no easy task, but taking extensive notes can help. Take notes not only during evaluations, but also in between them. Basically, you should always be taking notes.

Have a document handy in which you can jot down thoughts, concerns, and performance goals regarding specific employees. Record details about important events, too. Then, when review time comes around, you will be able to use the notes to more fairly evaluate your employees.

14. Be Specific

What's the best way to show someone how they can improve? Provide examples! Don't say, "Sue is great at her job." Instead, cite specific examples of times when Sue excelled. Instead of saying, "You need to get better at writing web copy," explain exactly what is missing from their current web copy.

15. Focus on Progress

Some goals take longer than others. Depending on the circumstances and how frequently your evaluations occur, not all goals will be achievable by the time the next performance review comes around. This is why it's best to focus on employees' progress moving forward. What are they doing every day to work toward their goals? Help employees track their progress by collaborating on a timeline, sharing regular email updates, or following a simple checklist.

Navigating the world of evaluations isn't always easy, but implementing the right ideas and processes can change it for the better.

A version of this article originally appeared on the iRevü blog.

Michael Heller is the CEO and founder of iRevü.