Annual performance reviews can be stressful for everyone, and to be honest with some people it feels like this!

Is the video familiar? Sometimes, for managers, the performance management process is like getting blood out of a stone, and for employee's a trip to the dentist would be more desirable.

Yet done right it is a engaging and important activity. Here are some tips on how to to prepare for an appraisal both as a manager. We've also created some Performance Review tips for employees

1. Book in advance and don't cram your diary

As a manager, even though you may have a number of reviews to do, bear in mind that with each of your employees it's a critical, one-time-only exercise. Don't schedule your employees' review meetings back-to-back, or you'll be burnt-out after two hours and unable to give each session—and employee—the proper energy and focus. Spacing them out, one per day over a week or two weeks' time, is a much smarter solution.

2. Don’t take your employees by surprise.

Give them the time they need to prepare their own materials. You can even offer them guidelines on what exactly to prepare. For example, suggest that they write up an informal evaluation of their work and make a list of what they hope to accomplish in the coming months. If you spring a review on an unsuspecting employee, he or she will feel manipulated and doubt your trust.

3. Look at the whole year

Make sure you evaluate employees on their full year's performance as well as the entire range of their strengths and weaknesses. It's tempting to talk about recent history—good or bad, because it's freshest in your mind—but there's a reason this is called an annual review. If an employee is tremendous at one thing, that's great, but don't let that stop you from providing guidance on areas where he or she has room for improvement.

4. Agree Objectives together

Set new goals. Many managers overlook this step, or dismiss employees with a casual “Keep up the good work.” Don’t make that mistake. Take some time— ahead of time—to write out what you hope employees will accomplish in the next 6-12 months, and if possible, describe how their roles fits into the larger picture of the company’s goals. For the most effective sessions ensure the employee is reviewing and preparing objectives to discuss in the review.

5. Know your individuals role
Have a good knowledge of their job descriptions. Know what your team members were hired to do—the goals and expectations the company had for them when they started, the responsibilities they’re supposed to have, and the skills they were asked to acquire. Now look at what they’ve actually accomplished. Often, it’s more than what the company bargained for—and you should be sure to note that and recognise it in the review. Your employees will feel gratified that their work isn’t for nothing.

6. Be specific, constructive and honest

Most managers worry about awkward situations: How do you tell someone who’s doing a good job overall about the few things you’d like to change or deal with the person who has underperformed all year? - Answer: Be honest and specific.

If you have a specific issue with their performance then tell them and discuss and agree ways to move their performance in the right direction. Review time should not really throw up any surprises from either side if you have been meeting with them regularly and discussing throughout the year. Remember if you approach a performance review correctly, you and your team will benefit. You’ll work better together, you’ll get more done in less time, and you’ll trust each other. And as you build trust, giving reviews will get easier and easier.

About the author

phil laviolettephil laviolette

Hi!, I'm Phil LaViolette, Founder and Owner of evalu8d. I created resourcily to share hints, tips and resources I've collected over 20 years of training and coaching, across lots of industries and at all levels. I hope that, even in a small way, you gain from the tools I share!