Helping employees to improve their work performance can be challenging. It is easy to get frustrated and you may wonder if you are carrying out performance reviews effectively when:

* performance does not improve;

* performance actually gets worse;

* performance improves a little but not enough; and

* performance improves immediately but the improvements do not last.

What is an effective way to conduct performance reviews that leads to positive performance outcomes, continuous performance improvement or growth for the future?

Traditionally, performance reviews — also known as performance appraisals — focus on an employee’s past performance. They provide an opportunity for managers to present their assessments or appraisals of their employees’ performance over a defined review period, typically one year.

But as managers are finding out, a performance review is a shared process between the manager and the employee. It involves a meeting between the manager and the employee, and when conducted well, the two exchange information, including assessments of performance and ideas on how to improve performance.

The performance review meeting is important because it provides a formal setting in which an employee receives additional feedback on his performance.

Here are some useful tips to become more effective in conducting performance reviews, especially when you are a new supervisor or manager:

Managers’ role

Prior to conducting a performance review, the manager will review:

* the employee’s job description;

* the performance goals that the manager and employee have agreed upon at the beginning of the review period;

* the ongoing documentation of the employee’s performance;

* any documentation of coaching and feedback efforts; and

* notes from the last performance review

Employees’ role

The employee’s self-assessment may or may not be a part of your company’s performance management process. If it is not, you can ask the employee to submit his self-assessment several weeks before the performance review meeting.

Reviewing the employee’s self-assessment before the meeting allows you to use it as a resource in your assessment if you choose to. Employee self-assessment also encourages open discussions since it gives employees the opportunity to express their thoughts, concerns and questions about their performance.

Prepare the setting

To show that performance matters, the performance review meeting needs to be scheduled in advance. It is useful to give at least two weeks’ advance notice to the employee to allow him to prepare for it.

It is also useful to block out sufficient time for the meeting and arrange to meet in a private location without interruptions, to indicate to the employee that the performance review meeting is important.