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How to have an effective employee review

My colleague Ed Schultek spoke about looking back before looking forward in his latest blog post (link to it here), “Q4 wrap up – so how did the year go?” when having goal setting sessions with your sales team. Today I wanted to chat a bit about employee reviews – why they are important and how to make them effective.

As Ed mentioned, it’s important to get your employees involved in the review process, it not only validates them as a valued team member, but it also gives you, as the manager, great insight into your company culture.

So how DO you have an effective review?

  1. It all begins with GOALS – you will want to have something to measure in order to assess performance.

Many companies we work with adopt the S.M.A.R.T. goal system:

Specific: Well-defined to inform employees exactly what is expected, when, and how much. With specific goals, managers can easily measure progress toward goal completion.
Measurable: Provide milestones to track progress and motivate employees toward achievement.
Attainable: Success needs to be achievable with effort by an average employee, not too high or too low.
Relevant: You should focus on the greatest impact to the overall company strategy.
Time-bound: Establish enough time to achieve the goal, but not too much time to undermine performance. Goals without deadlines tend to be lost in day to day work flows

  1. Create a 5-10 question review sheet for you and your employee – you will both complete them and review together at their evaluation meeting. Here are some samples:
    • Did they hit their goals – if not, why?
    • Do they feel they got the support they needed from management in order to do their job effectively and efficiently?
    • Are they struggling with anything in their position that further training would help with?
    • Where do they see themselves (or where do you see them) in 1 year? 5 years?
    • Are they happy in their current position
    • As the manager – will they be getting a raise, promotion, demotion etc. – if so WHY – have data to back it up
  2. Plan a 30-60 minute meeting for the review
    • Encourage conversation from the employee – again validating their input
    • Discuss professional development with them – going back to where they see themselves in 1 yr., 5 yrs. Are there classes that need to be taken? Certifications? How can you as an employer help
    • Create new S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2016 – get buy in from the employee.

Your employee reviews will be a WIN-WIN for both your business AND your team when you look back at 2015 and involve your team in the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting process. If you need help getting started or revamping your current system, Sandler Training/PEAK can help get you to a super productive 2016!

Susan Powers
Partner & Certified Trainer

Learn more about Sue at

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