Feb 15, 2015

How to conduct a great employee review

I wrote a post last year about my first "real" performance review a few months after a poor peer feedback session I had at VFA Training Camp. I didn't like the VFA review because it was personality-focused, and--despite a warning from VFA staff to be aware of judging women by a double-standard--I was the only fellow to receive a 10/10 for being both "too aggressive" and "not assertive enough".

At my first post-college job, I got nearly the opposite in my performance review. All my feedback was over-the-top positive, but when I asked for specific examples, negative or positive, there were none forthcoming. In this situation, the higher-up who gave my review was not my direct supervisor, and he was not familiar with my day-to-day work. As a result, I began to doubt that my contributions were valued.

With the bad taste of past reviews on my tongue, I was nervous for my first performance review at my current job. I didn't know what to expect, and I reminded myself not to take any criticisms personally.

Fortunately, my supervisor employed most of the tactics HR expert Susan Salgado mentions in her recent Inc article. Throughout my time here, I have been given frequent feedback on my projects, so there were no surprises when it came time to review my performance. Criticism was focused on specific behaviors with examples, rather than on personality. Not only did I not take negative feedback personally, but I could take action to improve--and then my progress was discussed in my second performance review. And finally, at the end of the review, my supervisor asked for feedback on her performance. This simple step shows employees that their supervisor values the company's success over the corporate hierarchy--what a great way to lead by example!

Instead of being something to dread, a good performance review shows employees that they are valued, leading to stronger company culture, lower turnover, and happier employees.