The saying sums it up: “Wow, I’m so excited for my performance review today, said no one, ever!”. If annual performance reviews draw more groans and frown than smiles, it’s time to see why. While giving and receiving positive reviews are fun and exciting for all concerned, negative reviews end up creating a lot of resentment, anger, frustration for both employees and managers. If you must give a negative review, here are ways to manage it so you can avoid at least most of the bitter aftermath! Handling negative reviews It cannot be sudden! Performance reviews indicate how well the employee has measured up to the goals mutually agreed upon with their managers. The key performance indicators are intended to measure the performance at various levels throughout the year. If at any stage, you find that the employee is not able to deliver on the agreed measurables, initiate a discussion with him or her to get to the root of the problem. In this way, you would be giving the employee a heads up on what areas need improvement. Periodic reviews conducted at regular intervals throughout the year will serve as precursors to the annual review and softens the blow if there are negative feedbacks for the employee. Piling it all up and suddenly springing a surprise at the end of the year is not fair on the employee. And who knows? These periodic reviews may actually help eliminate the negative reviews altogether! Be precise: An old saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. The measurables are intended to do just that – precisely measure the achievements or performance of an employee. Managers need to track and document the details of the performance so they can give the employee a clear picture of why a negative review is being given. When you can substantiate your review with facts, figures and statistics rather than merely coming across as biased, the employee is better able to come to terms with the review. Start with positives: No matter how bad the performance has been, the right tone can be set by starting off with a positive note. Explain the purpose of the review meet and start with an appreciation of any positive points that you may have noticed about the employee. While moving on to the negative ones, focus on the performance itself and not on the individual. Include details of what expectations were set right at the beginning of the year and how each parameter has been measured. At the end of the review, give the employee a chance to explain or voice his or her concerns. Sometimes, good employees are not able to perform up to their potential when there are some serious underlying reasons they were unable to share previously!
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