Paper Trails

Improving employee performance

Whether a small restaurant of 15 employees or a large manufacturing company of over 500 employees, a business would not be able to operate day after day without employees. In fact, a strong group of employees is the backbone of any successful business. Many companies realize that retaining top talent in their organization is as important as ever. One way to improve employee production and retention is by conducting employee performance reviews. Let’s take a look at improving employee performance through reviews.

What is an employee performance review?

A performance review is a periodic evaluation of an employee. This process is often done by the employee’s direct supervisor or manager and can also consist of an employee self-review. Some of the topics covered in a review can include, but may not be limited to:

  • Employee’s work performance
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the employee
  • Employee’s behavioral performance/issues
  • Areas where employee can improve
  • Future goals for the employee to achieve

In addition to the standard 90 day or annual review, many organizations now conduct more frequent and informal one-on-ones. Not only are reviews a great retention tool for any organization, they promote employee satisfactory and engagement. When done correctly, performance reviews help recognize hard working employees, can fix small issues before they continue to grow, and will communicate company expectation and goals.

How can reviews improve employee performance?

Employee performance reviews are part of a bigger, more strategic company picture. Consider the following factors to help improve employee performance.

Implement a consistent and regular Performance Evaluation System.

Employee reviews need to be performed consistently and fairly across the board. A well constructed performance review system can provide a foundation for decisions on promotions, development, and terminations.

It is important to have a performance review policy outlined in your company handbook. Once you have the policy in place, make sure to follow it when it comes to all employees. Employees of certain protected classes need to be treated equally to all other employees. Conducting reviews with only a few employees, or handing out negative reviews because of a disability, can open your business up to potential discrimination claims. For example, if you have concerns about a receptionist’s rapidly declining typing skills, it could be attributed to a potential disability for which you may need to provide reasonable accommodations under the federal American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Once you have completed the review, make sure to document and file the review in the employee’s personal file. This way, should disciplinary action or even termination be required later on, there is sufficient documentation of past employee work performance.

As employees shift positions within the company, it is important to conduct performance reviews with them. To keep the evaluation process seamless, conduct reviews:

  • Before the employee transitions to another job position. The former manager should complete an evaluation.
  • Prior to a manager or supervisor transferring to another job, he or she should complete an evaluation for each staff member.

Show employees the link between their individual performance and company performance and goals.

During the employee onboarding process, employees should be made aware of individual goals and how they relate to the overall company goals. When conducting each employee review, make sure to track progress towards individual goals or establish new future goals. In addition, you can gather individual performance information to assess how a particular employee or team has been performing towards their goals and then how to remedy any deficiencies.

In the end, make sure to provide detail to the employee on how their work has contributed to the company goals and overall success of the business.

Directly address employee issues.

Managers should address employee performance issues as they arise. Sometimes, there may be a perfectly valid reason for a performance or behavioral issue. For instance, an employee may have a family medical issue that involves the employee providing extra care for someone. Consequently, this is leading to the employee’s poor performance.

Engage in open and direct communications with employees regularly and often. By your managers being proactive, open and honest discussions help employees work through their work-related concerns. There should be no surprises when the formally schedule performance review meeting occurs.

Empower your employees to improve.

Empower your employees to take responsibility for their own development. Have them create an action plan for themselves to improve their work performance and reach their personal goals. Then, assist them by providing the resources necessary for them to reach those goals. This can be certain company equipment they may need to more efficiently perform their duties or sending them to a company training that enhances their skills or experience.

Follow-up, follow-up, and follow-up.

Lastly, be sure to consistently follow-up with employees after their review. By checking in with them often, managers can make sure the employee is on the right path to success. This also sends the employee a message that the expectations are being taken seriously and that managers are investing in the employee’s professional growth. Additionally, recognizing success along the way is key to keeping employees engaged and continuing to improve at their jobs. This can be done through verbal praise or even monetary rewards such as gift cards, bonuses, etc.