Male and female at performance review

Preparing for a performance review

The right approach to benefit both the employer and employee

4 minute read
Male and female at performance review

Although it may be traditionally associated with moving up in the company ranks, a performance review goes beyond this for both the employer and employee.

Whether it be a formal meeting every six to 12 months or informal catch-ups, Kinmarch Consulting Director Michelle Gilmore said it was important to investigate and assess an employee’s progress to ensure they are on the right track.

“An end-of-year review is crucial to see how the employee has performed throughout the year and how they sit relative to others in their performance,” she said.

“People need and want to know they are making a difference, and that they are building relationships and trust – it is the bedrock for getting things done smoother, more quickly and in a cooperative spirit.”

What is a performance review and performance management?

MKI Legal Director Nicholas Marouchak said a performance review was a chance for a manager to give feedback to their employee and tell them what they were doing well and how they could improve.

“Some companies do it more formally, where they have a rating system and they can say whether an employee has fallen short, met expectations or if they’ve exceeded expectations,” he said.

“Performance management on the other hand is where the employee is not doing their job properly and not performing to expectations.”

How to prepare for a performance review

Ms Gilmore said the key principles for both the employer and team member when preparing for a performance review were cultivating a collaborative, forward-focused mindset.

“The outcome should be a plan with an emphasis on development, growth and problem-solving, rather than only a rating of past performance,” she said.

“Prepare to both give and receive feedback – this is a two-way conversation."

“Preparation includes thinking of specific examples, so your feedback is based on real data and not hunches or gossip.

“Take time to refresh yourself on what has happened over the last 12 months.

“Consider what you both set out to do in the last performance agreement, how it went, any highlights and achievements you want to discuss and be specific.”

Ms Gilmore said both the manager and team member should remind themselves how the role contributed to the organisation’s vision, mission and strategy.

“Focus on the year ahead, as well as what skills, knowledge and opportunities you want to build,” she said.

“This is the time to be creative about how to build those skills – for example, what projects, assignments, mentoring or step-up opportunities will help to build skills in real time in the workplace, rather than relying on the occasional day of classroom training.

“Lastly set aside a mutually agreed time and a suitable venue for the meeting, pulling together your notes and questions.”

Participating in performance management

Mr Marouchak said when preparing for performance management, employers needed to look into how long their employee had been with the company to ensure they had the correct framework in operation.

“If the company is on the larger side and the employee has been there for less than six months or if the business is smaller with less than 15 employees who have been there for under 12 months, they can dismiss them at short notice if they are underperforming,” he said.

“However, if the employee has been at the organisation longer than the six to 12-month period, an organisation can’t just fire the employee when they are underperforming as that would be a potential unfair dismissal.

“From a legal perspective, performance management is there to give the employee a chance to improve before they are ultimately terminated.”

Mr Marouchak said best practice would be to create a performance improvement plan.

“This is where the employer sets out all the performance issues the employee has to improve on – set smart goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely,” he said.

“It’s important to have follow-up reviews, and then after some time – say after three months – a manager can decide on whether they have passed performance management or not.”

Ms Gilmore said it was incredibly important to set out clear examples while conducting a performance review or performance management.

“It’s much more helpful for a manager to mention ‘I really appreciated when you did X, Y and Z’, rather than to say ‘your teamwork has been a bit better lately’,” she said.

“Whatever you want the employee to change or improve on, it needs to be clear.

“There is nothing more frustrating for an employee than getting the impression that the boss wasn’t happy with you and you are not sure what is not right.”