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Periodic performance reviews are essential to effectively running a business and getting the most from your employees. But let’s face it – they’re not always easy, and sometimes they’re downright uncomfortable. In order to properly give feedback and improve communication, it’s necessary to follow some performance review best practices to prevent them from going wrong. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Use a Positive Inflection

Choosing the right tone is crucial when giving a performance review. Coming across as callous or adversarial tends to defeat the entire purpose and is likely to put you at odds with your employees. That’s why you should avoid “pointing the finger” and demeaning your team. This can be done by focusing heavily on the positives and delicately weaving in the negatives so employees don’t feel as if they’re in the hot seat and being berated.

Start With Positives 

It’s almost never a good idea to jump right into discussing the things a person is doing wrong because it sets a negative atmosphere. Instead, it’s better to begin with going over what you’re pleased with and the areas of performance that are meeting your expectations.

According to Dick Grote, author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals, “Most people are good solid workers, so for the vast majority, you should concentrate exclusively on the things the person has done well because this method tends to motivate people who are already competent at their jobs.”

Focus on Only One or Two Important Negatives

Now to the difficult part of performance reviews – commenting on negatives. This can be tricky because you want to bring any issues out in the open and let employees know what needs to change. However, you don’t want to go overboard to the point that a person feels threatened or feels like they’re walking on eggshells. The key is to be firm and concentrate on just one or two areas that need the most improvement.

Grote says, “For your marginal workers, do not sugarcoat bad news. Performance reviews are your chance to confront poor performers and demand improvement. People are resilient.” Just be sure to focus on the behavior and not the person during this phase of a review.

When done correctly, performance reviews can open the channel of communication between you and your employees and help establish better rapport. This way you can get your point across, eliminate problem behavior and improve operations as a whole.

For more on running your business more effectively and other insights, check out our management tips or contact us today.

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