Unlike the EPO that Lance Armstrong now admits he took for years, annual reviews are a widely sanctioned performance-enhancing tool.

Still, employees and managers dread them – because they’re often uncomfortable and fail to do what they’re supposed to do:  improve performance.  In fact, according to a large survey conducted by WorldatWork, 58% of organizations rated their performance management systems as “C Grade or below.”

If you dread annual reviews and would like to improve your results, here are a few practical ideas from Kinsa for making them the true “performance enhancers” they should be:

Give your employee review pre-work.  You put a lot of time and effort into preparing for a review – your employee should do the same.  Prepare for a productive conversation by providing him with a copy of your appraisal form a week before the review.  Give him time to read it, reflect on what he’s achieved (or failed to achieve) and create growth goals for the coming year.

Give specific, tactical feedback.  Open your performance review by focusing on the employee’s core area.  Start by commending him for the work he does well, giving specific examples of positive behaviors.  Recognizing accomplishments up-front will let your employee know that his work is noticed and valued – and set the right tone for your conversation.  Simply telling your employee that he did a “good job,” however, is not enough to support his continued growth.  To get the most from him in the year ahead, provide feedback that is measurable, specific and action-oriented.

Balance the negative with the positive.  When you present negative feedback, focus on the behavior – not the employee.  Use the experience as a teaching opportunity, from which the employee can learn and grow.   Most of all, for every criticism you make, find something else you can praise.  You need to be honest in a performance review, but you must also motivate your employee to perform for you in the year ahead.

Set expectations for the future.  Work together to set “SMART” performance goals for the coming year.  This goal-setting acronym is still widely used for one simple reason:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound goals are more likely to be achieved.  So as you work with your employee to set higher standards for the next quarter or year, help him create SMART performance goals that will get him there.

Change the timing or frequency.  Reviews are typically planned for the fourth quarter – a time when work has piled up, the holidays are in full swing and employee stress levels are high.  To improve your results, plan reviews for a slower time of the year.  You and your employees will have more time to devote to the process, without the distractions end-of-year craziness causes.

Increasing review frequency can also make the process easier.  You can break annual reviews into smaller, more frequent meetings (e.g., quarterly, or at the end of major projects).  Reviewing performance more often allows you to give timely feedback that has a greater impact.

Plan now for next year.  With a typical work year consisting of 2,080 hours, it’s nearly impossible to remember what each employee accomplishes during a 12-month period.  So as you progress through 2013, keep a record of specific examples of good and bad performance for each employee.  When review time comes around, having this information will put you ahead of the game – and convey to your employees that you’ve been watching, noticing and appreciating their hard work all year long.

Better Hires Mean Better Performance Reviews

When you hire better, your employees hit their goals.  And when your employees hit their goals, your annual performance reviews are easier.  It’s that simple.

Kinsa Group can help you hire smarter.  With over 25 years of recruiting senior-to-executive level food & beverages professionals, we deliver consistently exceptional candidates who will perform for your organization.  Contact Kinsa today to learn more about our contingent and retained search services for food & beverage professionals.

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