Yesterday, I talked about how to prepare for a performance review meeting more effectively from the manager’s and employee’s perspectives.

Today’s article will focus on the meeting  itself and the desired outcomes.

What to do?

During the meeting, you should consider these steps:

Open the discussion

Start the meeting by putting yourself and the employee at ease by making small talk. Thank the employee for coming to the meeting and taking the time to complete the self-assessment. Then, you should describe the purpose of the meeting and give the employee an overview of what will be covered during the discussion.

Ask for the employee’s perspective

Begin the performance discussion by asking the employee to share his perspective on how well he has performed over the review period.

Ask him to comment on whether he has met each of the goals set in the performance plan. At this point, you should withhold any disagreements that you may have and show the employee that you are interested in what he has to say by listening actively.

Discuss your assessment

After the employee has explained his assessment of his own performance, you should revisit each goal and let your employee know the rating you have given for each goal and the reasons that led to each rating.

Always start the discussion with the areas on which you agree before you move on to areas in which you disagree. This will help reduce tension, and demonstrate to the employee that there is common ground and that the meeting is not confrontational.

When you discuss areas of your employee’s performance on which you disagree, you should explain how you reached your conclusion. Provide specific examples to support your assessment. Usually, employees are more willing to accept your assessment when they understand the reasons behind it.

Discuss accomplishments and learning opportunities

Once you and your employee have established whether he has achieved each goal from his performance plan, take some time to identify lessons learnt from the successes and failures in achieving his goals.

It is important to identify the factors that supported or undermined his performance during the review period to help him build on his successes and address areas for improvement.

At this point, you and the employee should discuss and agree on the developmental steps that will be taken to help improve his performance in the future. Keep in mind that the aim of the discussion is not to place blame but to help the employee learn from any failures that he experienced.

Set a time for performance planning

Discussing how the employee can learn from successes and challenges naturally leads to a discussion about setting new performance goals. Therefore, when you have finished examining each of the employee’s goals, you should schedule a performance planning meeting with him to set performance goals for the next review period.

Close the discussion

After you and the employee have concluded the discussion of past performance, addressed any developmental needs and established new developmental goals, you should summarise the agreements as well as express appreciation for the employee’s participation.

You should also make notes about the entire discussion. Typically, you and the employee are required to sign the appraisal form — electronic or paper — to show that the discussion has taken place.

In summary, the guidelines for conducting the performance review meeting are as follows:

* Establish and maintain rapport;

* Encourage two-way dialogue;

* Focus on performance and not personality; and

* Emphasise both accomplishments and learning opportunities.

Follow up

Once the performance review meeting has been concluded, you need to ensure that the agreements are kept and plans followed. If this is not done, the entire performance review process loses its impact and the employee assumes that no one really cares about performance or commitments.

Finally, your attitude towards the performance review process has a strong influence on whether you will succeed in helping employees improve their performance.

Many managers and employees dread the process because managers often feel that they are forced to make judgments of their employees while employees feel that they are having a manager’s assessment forced on them.

However, if you use performance review as a tool instead of a final judgment, involve your employees in setting their own goals, communicate with them on a regular basis, as well as provide ongoing coaching and support, it will help you work as a partner with your employees towards greater performance.