Most employees are full of enthusiasm and passion when they begin a new job, however 85% of companies report a sharp decline in employee morale that continues to deteriorate according to a study of 1.2 million employees at Fortune 1000 companies.
Instead of approaching employee reviews with contempt and dread, follow these five tips to reinforce trust and rekindle relationships.
- Open with an agenda. Setting expectations for the performance review up-front will quell any feelings of anxiety and apprehension. Briefly explain, for example, that you would like to start by discussing how you believe things have been going; then address opportunities for the future, and in closing, give the employee an opportunity to share any concerns or ask questions.
- Put the employee’s perspective to work. In a recent study, 63% of employees felt their review wasn’t a true indicator of their performance. An open dialogue, when used correctly, reinforces trust and respect. Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations principle #17 is ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.’ Asking questions, such as how the employee thinks things are going from her perspective, establishes a constructive tone and makes the employee more amenable to feedback—both good and bad.
- Speak in specific vs. vague terms. Instead of using general terms such as, “You really knocked it out of the park last quarter!” state both achievements and disappointments in specific terms. For example, say instead, “You exceeded your sales quota by 16% last quarter! That is the highest incremental growth for sales rep’s in the history of our organization!” There are many benefits of speaking in specific terms: the employee will understand that you are aware and appreciative of their individual performance; linking their performance to the overall company underscores their value to the organization, and you can use this metric to increase future sales quotas higher than ever before.
- Repel the recency effect which is a psychology term for when the entire year’s past performance is based on the most recent event. If the employee performed better than average all year long, but recently missed a critical product launch, focus on the overall performance. Indeed you must mention missing the launch, however use it as a way to show an opportunity to improve vs. to chastise.
- Conjure career ambitions. According to the same study, employees who believe their reviews were inaccurate are twice as likely to seek new jobs. Your organization has already sunk costs into this employee—new-hire acquisition, training, onboarding, benefits, etc. If the employee is worthy of continued investment, ask questions like, “What do you want to do next?” This forces all employees, from the disgruntled to the hyper-passionate, to look at themselves in the mirror and truly ponder if they are in the ideal position. If the current role is not the best long-term fit, use this discussion to ascertain the employee’s other skills and professional goals so that you can use them as inputs into growth succession planning.
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