Employee Engagement

A breakdown of employee performance review etiquette – with Tony Loxton

Written by Tony Loxton
Apr 27

Employee reviews aren’t something that anybody looks forward to. For employees, it’s the one time of year where your superiors get to tell you how you’ve been performing, and often what the state of your finances will be like in the months to come. For managers and employers, it’s often a time when you can no longer avoid dealing with staff issues you’ve been putting off for the rest of the year. But with the right approach and a bit of applied strategy, employee reviews don’t have to be an uncomfortable experience for anyone.

Rather, they can be an opportunity for employees to learn more about what’s required of them to excel in their careers, and for employers to provide valuable feedback. At Blix, we do three reviews for each employee per year because we want them to feel valued and motivated.

In this article, I’ll first take a look at the reasons that performance reviews are conducted. Then I’ll list some rules of thumb for good performance review etiquette, and what you can do to make these as valuable an experience as possible. Why do performance reviews happen?

There are a number of reasons that a performance review might be necessary:

Annual performance reviews should be conducted every six to twelve months to assess the employee’s performance with respect to their position in the company and their remuneration.

Under some circumstances, a performance review might be necessary as part of a disciplinary procedure. Under the new provisions of the Fair Work Act that came into effect in July 2009, an employee has a ‘workplace right’ to call for an investigation if he or she has been subject to ‘adverse action’ in the workplace.

Performance reviews may happen for different reasons and constitute different outcomes, but the procedure is similar regardless of what prompted them. Let’s take a look at some pointers for good performance review etiquette in the points below.

Guidelines for good performance review etiquette

1. Be specific with your feedback

There’s no worse experience for an employee than to leave a performance review with the feeling that the work they’re doing isn’t noticed. In fact, research has shown that people prefer receiving negative feedback to receiving no feedback at all. When you’re reviewing an employee’s performance, don’t use vague statements like “you’re doing a great job” or “we need you to work harder” – be specific about what’s working and what isn’t. Was there a project that they did outstanding work on? Commend them on that, and draw attention to what it was in particular that you liked about what they did. Did you notice an area in which they lack skills? Bring it up in a constructive way and ask them how they would like to go about improving in those respects.

2. Have a measurement system in place and use facts in your feedback

A lot of the time, employees leave performance reviews feeling disgruntled because they feel they’ve been presented with an opinion instead of facts. Having a system of performance measurement in place and referring to this system when reviewing your staff will help them understand where you’re coming from and allay any suspicion that you’re just out to get them if you have negative feedback. Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are measurable and traceable is an effective way of achieving this, so give some thought to how you can set up strong KPIs.

3. Always ask for a response from the employee

It’s important that the employee’s voice gets heard in any performance review. Because many people are intimidated by the prospect of having their performance reviewed by their superior in a confined space, it’s common for employees not to participate much while you’re telling your side of the story. To make sure your points have been properly understood, always encourage questions, comments or feedback from the employee during or at the end of the session.

4. Remember that it’s a discussion

At the end of the day, remember that an employee performance review is really nothing more than a discussion with you and a fellow member of your team. Make it clear to them at the start of the session that there’s no need to feel intimidated or singled out, and encourage a conversational approach. When people feel more comfortable, they are inclined to be more open and honest, which is exactly what you’re looking for in these kinds of sessions.

Retailers apply Blix KPI's for their stores which are reviewed on a regular basis. For example, a global jewellery brand measures their store’s success on a series of KPI's. One of these KPI’s is average customer dwell time. If they see the average customer dwell time is below X, the store fails to reach its KPI and this forms a focus of the weekly sales meeting conversation with the store manager, etc.

Blix offers a range of products and services that can help you get the most out of your employee measurement systems. To find out more about how technologies like our foot traffic counter can help you, click here.

Learn more about Blix Traffic for retail

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