Time for another performance review with your team! You’re not super excited about that, right? Why do performance reviews get such a bad rap anyway?
Performance reviews may sometimes turn into stressful, frustrating conversations but they don’t have to. As a manager, there is a lot you can do to take the pressure off and go through an effective review process. You can structure the meeting, prepare for the session, and practice giving constructive feedback.
The first step is understanding the value behind the performance review process. Let’s focus on why we’re doing it in the first place and what performance review is actually about.
What is a Performance Review?
Contrary to the popular belief, a performance review is not about micromanaging your team. It’s a simple check-in, an honest 1:1 chat with your team to see how they’re getting on in their roles and if they’re meeting your expectations but also if you’re meeting theirs. Do they enjoy the current challenges? Is the bar set too high? Do they need additional training? What’s your evaluation of the employee’s performance? Can you identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them self-improve and grow in their role?
Performance reviews are essential to prevent burnout. Have an honest conversation with your team about how satisfied they are in their roles. This is the time to signal anything that doesn’t go according to plan and the expectations that both sides have regarding the particular responsibilities. Don’t treat the performance reviews as a monologue, turn them into a valuable dialogue where each person feels safe to speak their mind.
One crucial thing – make the performance review process fun! Whiteboards can help with that. Avoid mumbo jumbo manager talk, be clear about the goals, support your feedback with clear examples, include icebreakers, and write down action points at the end of the meeting. Performance reviews are perfect opportunities to build and nurture relationships with your team. Use our simple performance review template to get a head start.
Performance Review Benefits
Performance reviews have lots of benefits. It’s an important meeting to promote career development and reflect on the direction your employee is taking. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge any big accomplishments and talk about a possible promotion.
During the annual performance review, you can motivate your team, which can improve their overall engagement in the upcoming year. A well-structured employee performance review can also touch on areas that need improvement. It’s your job to support your team whenever they need you. During the effective performance review process, you can decide to enroll a specific employee in any additional training if needed.
Performance reviews are those rare occasions when you can clarify expectations from both sides. They strengthen the bond within the team and make you more approachable.
If you want to build a dream team – performance reviews are essential. You should never skip them as you should never skip retrospectives when working with an Agile mindset. There is always something that can be improved. Without the conversation – it might never come to light.
Performance review sessions are also great opportunities to practice giving and receiving feedback, which is not always easy. Some people might get unnecessarily defensive if the message is conveyed in an accusatory tone. Get your team inspired even if some things didn’t work out. Learn how to give constructive feedback that provides value.
Benefits of Performance Review Templates
You are busy, as is everyone. Probably the last thing you need before the actual performance review is to spend time crafting your own performance review form. Why performance review templates are beneficial? They can easily save you time and focus on what matters the most, i.e. the conversation.
- Performance review template provides you with a clear structure so that you have a good understanding of the flow of the performance review session.
- The ready-to-use form can set a tone for the expectations of the performance meeting. There’ll be no surprise questions asked.
- Performance review template inspires you to incorporate some fun elements, especially if you’re conducting the performance evaluation on a digital whiteboard.
Performance Review Process
Before the performance review starts, both parties need to prepare for the meeting. The more time and notice you can give each other to prepare, the better the outcome will be. Look at the last review period (be it a year, 6 months, or a quarter) and identify the targets that have been set in the previous meeting as well as any actionable items.
Once you have all the details at hand, go through the questions on the performance review form to anticipate in which direction the conversation might go. Don’t forget to share the performance review questions with your team so that they can prepare the answers and run the self-evaluation beforehand.
Start with the following performance review questions:
What are the 2-3 things you are proud of since the last performance review?
Help the employee build up confidence and focus on the positives first. They can talk about accomplishments, challenges they’ve overcome, or even new skills they’ve acquired.
What do you think is working well?
Highlight the core responsibilities that the employee performs well.
What is not working as well as expected?
Uncover an area where the employee’s progress needs improvement. Your job as a manager is to guide your team and help them realize their full potential. If any areas are not up to par, you can suggest help and additional training that could fix this gap. Focus on technical as well as communication skills in this part.
In case the targets were not achieved, what was the main reason, blocker?
Focus on the blockers, what prevented them from achieving a specific goal, so that you can both work on streamlining the process, and addressing the core issue.
How are you finding your position?
Follow up with this question to find out if the employee’s strengths are used to their full potential or if there are any aspects of the role that they find challenging.
Performance review questions you might get asked as a manager
Performance review sessions are two-way conversations. There’s a high chance you’ll get asked the following questions, and it’s better to be prepared to give relevant answers.
- What are the business goals for the following year?
- What are our team’s goals?
- What are my goals for next year?
- Which metrics would determine that I achieved those goals?
Use Any of the 100 Templates on Whiteboards to Reach Your Goals and Make Performance Reviews Fun, Interactive & Valuable
Performance reviews are often associated with something serious. Why not lighten the mood and kick off the session with a simple icebreaker? It’s your time, to create a safe, comfortable space that promotes trust and puts everyone at ease.
Our performance review here at Whiteboards comes with a substantial milestone – we’ve reached 100 templates in our template library! These templates have been specifically crafted for Agile, software development & product teams. Browse through customizable templates to introduce some fun and make your performance review interactive!
Why not use GIFs to illustrate the mood, or emojis to visualize the reaction of the team? The performance review sessions can be turned visual and much more interesting if you’re conducting them on a digital whiteboard. Try the performance review template in our Whiteboards app, which boosts the visual and collaborative aspect of online meetings. You can also create your own custom template, by combining several Whiteboards templates together. Simply open one of the following templates from the template library, once you and your team are on the virtual board.
Emojis and Stickers Template
Express your feelings with visual reactions in the form of emojis and stickers.
Avatar Creator Template
Create your own avatars and start the meeting with a fun exercise to break the ice. The best part? You can reuse your avatars on other boards!
Super Quick Team Building Template
Choose the image that represents your mood the best on this day, and share one personal or work-related task that you’re looking forward to accomplishing.
Wheel of Questions Icebreaker Template
Try this interactive icebreaker template. Spin the wheel and get a random question. Lighten the mood, get to know each other better, and answer some fun questions about yourselves!
Performance Review Templates
We have three different performance review templates in our templates library.
Apart from the employee performance review, try out the personal review template and the team’s year-in-review template. A team’s year in review is one of the crucial team-building tactics, which focuses on the overall annual performance of a team rather than the individual contribution of each team member.
A team’s year in review can uncover some previously unspoken issues or highlight the team’s strengths, build trust, boost employee engagement, and promote further collaboration. A team performance review can help you as a manager understand the team’s needs and focus on the opportunities for further growth.
To run a team performance review, use our dedicated performance review template. Start with focusing on events, important dates, and milestones your team has achieved throughout the year. Reflect on what really worked well and identify the areas where the collaboration was not as smooth as everyone wished.
Some aspects you and your team might reflect on during the team performance session are the following.
- The biggest things we’ve completed as a team & our best achievements.
- The biggest challenges we faced as a team.
- The biggest lessons we’ve learned as a team.
Turn the team performance review into a fun and engaging activity. Incorporate images reflecting the team’s mood, GIFs, emojis, stickers, and videos. You can do all of that on our digital whiteboard.
What to Avoid During the Employee’s Performance Review?
If you want to avoid common mistakes, watch some examples of poorly run performance reviews on YouTube. And whatever you do, don’t be that guy!
Make note of our top tips on what to avoid in order to get the most out of the session and not treat it as a waste of time.
Not being honest
One of the most important aspects of an employee performance review is to give honest and detailed feedback. It’s definitely not easy and something that you can get better at, with practice. Honest feedback is invaluable – you will not gain the expected result with sugar-coated messages, nor will it be helpful to the employee as they will not know which areas they should focus on to improve their skills and grow in their career. Be honest – this is paramount.
Not providing clear feedback
The second most important ‘what not to do’ on our list is ‘not providing clear feedback.’ You need to support your feedback with clear examples. It will be much easier to understand your message if it’s paired with context. Only then will the employees be able to understand why they received certain feedback.
In case the message is indirect and soft – it can leave the employee confused and they will not be exactly sure what it all means and what they’re supposed to improve or where their strengths lie.
Not providing clear agenda before the meeting
Make sure you create an agenda before the performance review and send it to your employees in advance so that they can adequately prepare. No one likes to be put on the spot, with the expectation to provide clear & concise answers to difficult questions.
Give your team time to reflect on their job, past performance, and expectations of the role. You will get much more insightful answers during the employee performance review as your team will be able to build up confidence with thought-through messages.
Feel free to follow this structure of a performance review template or adapt it to your needs.
- Start with a casual chit-chat to break the ice. Feel free to use any of our icebreaker templates for this part.
- Focus on the key points, areas of strength, and areas that need improvement.
- Discuss any additional training opportunities.
- Talk about the career goals, aspirations of your employee, and their general satisfaction in their role.
- Create an action plan outlining goals & objectives for the next year and be specific about actions that each of you will take to achieve those goals.
Not supporting your team with additional training
Your job as a manager is to guide your team and help it shine. If you see some areas that need to be improved, instead of blaming others for poor performance, empower them, and sign them up for additional training so that they can improve their skills. Nurture each employee and help them thrive in your organization.
Not writing down action points
Each performance review should end with clear action points. Without action points, it’s as if the meeting never happened. It’s quite rare that you will remember what you discussed 6 months or a year ago. A quick scan of the action points from the last performance review will easily jog your memory. Documenting action points is the only way to evaluate future performance reviews. Have a point of reference, and be clear on what’s expected from you and from the employee.
Performance review is a two-way conversation, make sure it’s not a monologue where you just criticize or praise your employee for their work. Involve them in the conversation and listen to their feedback. They might come up with some insightful answers that will improve the overall collaboration in the future. If your employee gives you feedback and you actively listen to them, they will feel more valued, knowing that their point of view matters.
Be a leader, without being bossy. If you’re struggling with giving constructive feedback, practice or sign up for a specific course that will teach you how to give feedback that provides value, even if you need to assess poor performance.
Start with something positive so that your employee can build some confidence and have a better attitude toward the performance review session. Give context to your feedback, be specific, and cut out any words that you think might not be objective.
Avoid any blur words that don’t mean much or can mean different things to different people. In case the message is negative, focus on the impact it has so that your employee can see the bigger picture and gets a better understanding of the dependencies and the real value of their work. This will give them a sense of purpose and meaning.
Always finish with an open discussion – suggest further steps, and give actionable feedback, but don’t forget to ask ‘what are your thoughts on this, do you think this is what we should do?’ Ask them to give you constructive criticism as well. Find out what YOU can improve to become a better manager to motivate and empower your team to shine.
Try out our performance review template to rock your next performance review!