Planning and executing an effective performance interview

Though several months away for most organizations it's never too early to start thinking about one of the most important rituals that takes place between a manger and employee: performance reviews. These are formal opportunities for career development where you and your manger have a dialogue about your accomplishments, contributions, and goals (both met and to be set) and get feedback along with some kind of performance score.

Though several months away for most organizations it's never too early to start thinking about one of the most important rituals that takes place between a manger and employee: performance reviews. These are formal opportunities for career development where you and your manger have a dialogue about your accomplishments, contributions, and goals (both met and to be set) and get feedback along with some kind of performance score.

The most productive performance review discussions are those that summarize previous informal discussions about performance. The end of the year review allows consolidation of previous discussions in order to point out trends and patterns of performance. To truly achieve this overview, managers must discuss and keep track of progress throughout the performance period (e.g., the previous year). The employee needs to take inventory and ask themselves questions like; Have I considered what was accomplished and how it was accomplished? What was not accomplished and why? Were expectations clearly established and the employee's job clearly defined? What resources/help were needed? Was there ongoing feedback throughout the year? And was the desired accomplishment under the employee's control?

Preparation should also include meeting with a department head or other clients who work closely with the employee to get an overall assessment of performance and to discuss support needed. The manager and employee should identify an appropriate sample of internal clients/coworkers for feedback and the manager should solicit and collect the feedback before preparing the final yearly review.

Below are tips for both planning and executing successful performance reviews:

Planning performance interviews:

  • If appropriate, gather data from some of the employee's internal clients with whom he/she works closely to assist in writing a comprehensive review
  • Ask the employee to provide self-input well ahead of time
  • Anticipate potentially difficult issues and be prepared with facts
  • Include in the final written review a written summary of all performance related conversations held during the year
  • Use concrete examples in the review to support your ratings
  • Be certain the performance message matches performance ratings
  • Link the review discussion points to prior expectations and feedback
  • Schedule enough time for a two-way, interactive meeting and don't allow interruptions
  • Hold the meeting in a comfortable place (preferably not across your desk)

Executing a Successful Meeting:

  • Give the employee time to read the review before going into detail
  • Ask open-ended questions to draw out the employee
  • Listen carefully and give direct and respectful feedback
  • Attempt to break conflict by finding areas of agreement such as customer and team needs, etc.
  • Prepare a formal performance review-a written summary of all performance-related conversations held during the year. While this is a best practice, it sometimes will not be possible. Check with Human Resources if you have a situation like this to assure it is handled properly.
  • Ask what you can do to better support the employee in the future
  • Complete the meeting with specific follow-up actions, plans, and agreed-upon expectations