How to Conduct a Performance Review When the News Isn’t Good

Performance reviews give employers a chance to provide feedback, recognize quality performance, and set expectations for future performance.  They are one of the most important communication tools businesses can use.  However, reviews are not always filled with compliments and a list of accolades.  Sometimes managers might be faced with having to give an under-performing employee a negative review.  This can be uncomfortable, but if done correctly, it can have a positive outcome.  Here are a few things to consider when giving a negative performance review.

Gather Data

A performance review is a very important and delicate meeting.  It is imperative that you are well-prepared prior to sitting down with the employee.  Keep track of achievements and note any issues or problems that you might be having.  Gather as much data as possible so that you can use this information during the meeting.  Data is crucial in delivering helpful feedback.

Start with Something Positive

When you know you are going to have to give an employee a negative review, try to find something positive about their performance to start the conversation.  Maybe they have a positive attitude or they always arrive to work on time.  Saying something positive will keep employees from getting as defensive as they might if you just went right into their negative performance.

Discuss Issues with Concrete Examples

When you begin discussing the problems you are having with the employee, each negative statement should be supported by at least 2 specific examples.  If your employee dropped the ball on a big account show evidence to support this.  If your employee has consistently been late for work, show them the specific dates and documentation.  If their performance is way off track, show them the numbers and compare them to previous months. When you give negative feedback, take time to discuss it and get to the root of the problem.

Focus on Their Strengths

It is more effective to focus on developing and improving strengths to focus on weaknesses.  Coach an employee to improve weaker areas by honing in on their strengths and giving ideas for how they can use these strengths to improve their performance.

Give Them Action Items

So you have given your employee a negative review and now they are left wondering what to do next.  It is your responsibility to help them come up with solutions and provide specific examples of what they can do to correct the behavior.  Create a list of measurable goals, both short and long-term, and give them suggestions for how they can meet these goals.

Document the Performance Review

It is always important to document any reviews or discussions that you have with your employees.  This allows you to keep track of their performance long-term and it gives you a comparison for past and future reviews.