Preparing for Year-End Employee Reviews

Employees and dread the task of preparing , often because they are unsure of how to write them or what they should include in them. The truth is, employee reviews serve as a crucial evaluation tool, both for the employee and for the business. Employees can use the year-end reviews to assess their work and accomplishments against their goals and competencies. Management can use the reviews (and the matrixes created for them) to ensure that all employees are fairly assessed, have a sense of accomplishment and understand how their individual work contributes to the overall success of the organization.

Performance reviews are meant to be a conversation between employer and employee, where both parties openly and honestly discuss performance in the past year and strategize how to get better in the year ahead. Here are some tips to get ready for this very import review.

For the employee: You will always be your biggest career advocate; the performance review is your chance to show your management who you are and what you’ve done.

  • Highlight your responsibilities and accomplishments: do not assume your manager will remember everything you have done this past year. Be sure to list your day-to-day responsibilities. Also, keep a running file of additional tasks and projects you’ve taken on, as well as emails, accolades, testimonials, etc. that you have received from peers and customers that highlight your job well done or going above and beyond.
  • Focus on skills and qualities: Understand what skills your manager values most. Note how you used your skills to deliver on quality. Focus on specific skills (analysis, presentation, communication, etc.) and qualities (team player, positive attitude, etc.). Be ready to provide concrete examples of how these skills help you work at the top of your game for the company.
  • Think about the next steps: Yes, this a review of your 2018 performance but it doesn’t end there. 2019 will begin with a goal planning session with your manager so don’t just speak in general about your career path. What do you want to do in the next month, quarter or year? How do your goals align with the company’s strategies?

Now that your employees are ready to tackle year-end reviews, below are some tips to help you, as the employer, complete your portion of the review and be ready to have an open and productive discussion with the employee.

For the employer: You’ve got a vested interest in ensuring all employees perform well.

  • Prepare your talking points: If you want your employees to take these reviews seriously, you must lead by example. Your employees deserve the value of full review; do not wait until the last minute to create a document for each employee. Find a list of goals that were set at the last performance review and use them as a guide to evaluate the employee’s performance. Get insight from other members of management who may work closely with the employee.
  • Engage employees: The review should be a conversation between you and the employee. This is not a criticism session, so avoid detailing every mistake an employee has made and don’t dominate the conversation. Instead, use the review as an opportunity to highlight the employee’s strengths and achievements while also providing constructive feedback on areas to improve and setting realistic objectives to be completed in the future. Allow the employee to express their career goals and discuss ways in which they can achieve that within the organization.
  • Look at the big picture: While year-end reviews focus on individual performance, they can also provide insight into how the organization operates as a team. Does one person or group appear to have a heavier workload than another person or team? Do you have one set of performance metrics for the whole business or is it customized based on job functions? As you and your team complete performance year-end reviews, conduct post-review meetings with management to discuss what they learned from employees and areas of concern to create strategies to be implemented in the new year. This can include hiring new employees, cross-training current employees, revising work processes, etc.

Year-end reviews allow both employees and management to celebrate successes, document the progress made and plan for future development. We hope the tips above help encourage you and your employees to take the steps to prepare in advance for reviews, making all parties feel comfortable to discuss the past year and take time to discuss how to succeed into the new year.

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