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Ah, the dreaded performance review. It comes around at least once a year, and it is often a source of anxiety and stress for employees and managers alike. Employees may fear hearing surprising criticism about their work or behavior, and managers may dread bringing up unpleasant topics and implementing unwelcome changes.

Feedback doesn’t have to be such a painful experience. Performance management, if maintained consistently over time, is much more than just occasional performance reviews. It is an ongoing conversation between an employee and his or her supervisor, and challenges and issues are addressed as they come up, instead of only at the end of the year.

The blog HR Ringleader discussed this topic recently, asking the important question: should we get rid of performance reviews, or should we throw out the formality that goes along with performance conversations?

Think back to performance reviews you’ve received and those you may have given.  Do you believe that such a high percentage of feedback is actually a “waste” or that it is a form of coaching that is valuable? I’d love to hear the arguments for and against the formal review.  Personally, I prefer the more informal, day-to-day feedback.  However, I’m still in the camp that an annual review is helpful if it is leaning toward the development of the individual for the coming year.

This two-pronged approach is valuable because it supports continuous performance management through regular, informal check-ins, which lead up to an annual review. The end-of-the-year performance review doesn’t contain any unpleasant surprises or new information; it is simply a culmination of the consistent feedback the employee has received throughout the year. This takes much of the anxiety and dread out of the situation, and it creates a more comfortable environment for employee development.

Day-to-Day Performance Management Tips

1. Talk to your employees often.

Know what is going on with your team. Walk around during the day, talk to employees, ask and answer questions and generally be accessible. If you are shut in your office all day, away from the main action, it is likely that you will miss some important information. Invest time every day into building genuine relationships with the people you manage; get to know them as people and learn what their strengths and weaknesses are.

2. Speak up when it’s just a small problem.

A big part of performance management is identifying and resolving problems before they get out of control. If you notice small issues that need to be addressed, don’t put off talking about them with your employees until they have become large problems. Give feedback and coaching early on, and treat these situations as opportunities for learning and development. Encourage your employees to learn from their mistakes, asking informal questions such as, “What went well?” and “What would you do differently next time?”

3. Don’t forget positive feedback.

Don’t make the mistake of only noticing what needs to be improved; also give credit for what is working successively. When your employees are doing a good job, say so. Praise the work and behavior that you would like to see more of, and you will encourage your team to strive for continuous improvement.

What is your style of performance management? Do you use annual reviews, informal feedback or a combination of the two?

Learn more about EDSI’s performance management resources.

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