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10 March 2019

A first time manager’s guide to performance review

One of the toughest things about being a new manager is giving a performance review. After all, with great power comes great responsibility. In your first role as manager, you will be thankful for a few tried and tested tactics to set you on the path to a successful performance review with your employees.  


The role of manager implies managing people. In theory it sounds easy enough, but in reality “the managing people” part is what most new managers struggle with the most. The truth is, your team can make or break your success. One of the most essential tools for building a strong relationship with your team is a performance review meeting.


While you are likely to be tempted to prepare for the review no longer than a week before, you probably know that you shouldn’t. A performance review should be treated as a year-long process and involves continuous action and thought throughout the annum. Below we will give you a basic guide on the process to follow for a successful performance review.


We will be working on a 12 month basis and consider January to be the start of the year and December to be the end.


January - Set goals and expectations

First things first, it’s very important to have an initial meeting with your team and establish what the goals and expectations are for the year ahead. It’s also a good idea to meet with them on an individual basis to set personal goals. 


The recommended process of settings goals is by using the SMART method which you may already be a familiar with; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-orientated, Time-bound goals. These individual goals should be specific to each person but also align with the team and overall company goals.


March, June, September - Hold touch-base meetings

Every three months, or monthly if you prefer, you should hold meetings to discuss progress with your employees. It’s important to constantly track performance and provide feedback throughout the year. You don’t want to get to the final performance review at the end of the year and not have addressed certain issues. 


You should schedule these meetings at the start of the year to ensure that they do actually take place. Prepare a very brief agenda for each meeting where you can discuss goals, expectations and any issues or questions that the employee may have. This informal feedback should be given to each person. This is also a chance for you to give praise, or address issues, if there are any. It won’t be easy but it is absolutely necessary. Again, you can’t expect a successful final performance review if there are ongoing issues that have not yet been addressed.


Take notes from each meeting - what you discussed and what the outcome was. This will be very useful at the end of the year.


October - Ask your employees to prep

Two months before the final review, set the date for the official meeting with each of your employees. This is also your chance to ask them to put together a report on their yearly results. Think about any official forms to be completed, ask them to compile a summary of their job description, what projects they are currently working on, and to give a rundown of goals and achievements. 


Another effective tactic is to ask employees to complete a self-evaluation. This can make your employees feel like they have a say in the process, but it can also provoke them to take a hard and steady look at their work behavior. This can make a big difference when discussing their performance. Some of the best self-evaluations consist of a few open-ended questions, like what were your challenges throughout the year? What are your biggest achievements? Where could you show improvement? If you want some inspiration or assistance regarding be sure to check out Mark the Job. They offer some great tips and tactics when it comes to completing evaluation forms.


November - Prep yourself as a manager

It’s very important that you do your own preparation for the final performance review. You don’t want to go in there underprepared and not looking interested. Think about gathering both quantitative and qualitative forms of employee performance. Quantitative would include things like deadline reports and call records. Qualitative, on the other hand, includes gathering customer feedback or your personal evaluation. This is where those notes you took earlier on in the year will really come in handy. 


December - Prepare your documentation

A few weeks before the review you need to compile all the collected information together. This includes the employees’ self evaluation forms, outside feedback, and any other relevant information that you can think of. This is the data that you can use to compile evaluation sheets, make points for discussion, and give written explanations regarding your feedback. 


This is also the time to think about how you want to structure the review process. You need to figure it all out now so that you are absolutely ready when the day of review arrives. For example, a good idea is to structure the review around the goals that were set at the beginning of the year. But there are other directions that you could take as well. Just ensure that you use a process that is comprehensive and your employees will be able to easily follow along.


End of December - Final review

Now, for the most important and probably intimidating part. However, the good news is that if you have followed all of the above steps, you really shouldn’t struggle here. It’s essentially just a matter of compiling all of the above into one final meeting. Of course, it involves a lot of detail and effort, but it should all come together like a good book.

Posted by: Edit Ford

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