How to Train Managers to Give Great Performance Reviews

Your performance management strategy may look great on paper, but its success depends entirely on execution. Because managers are the ones driving the process, their commitment is what makes your strategy a hit or miss. Their buy-in and participation are crucial to launching a strong performance management strategy and fostering a feedback-rich culture.

But in order for managers to be great coaches, they may need a little coaching themselves. Here are some tips to help shift managers’ attitudes toward performance management and improve your current system.

Constructive Criticism Training

No one likes giving or receiving negative feedback. One study found 37 percent of managers feel uncomfortable delivering direct feedback and criticism about their employees’ performance. But employees crave feedback—good and bad. Nearly 60 percent of employees felt their manager’s feedback did not help them improve their performance, according to Leadership IQ. Professional development and continuous learning are important factors for retaining talent and keeping employees happy and engaged, especially millennials and members of Gen Z.

Train your managers on how to give and frame constructive criticism so everyone comes out on top. Managers will feel more prepared for these conversations and their employees will get the actionable advice they need to succeed.  

Ongoing Feedback

Taking the time to deliver the highly personalized performance feedback employees need isn’t always possible for time-strapped managers. Encourage managers to meet weekly or bi-weekly with their direct reports to give, receive, and act on feedback.

The “ongoing feedback” approach lets managers keep pace with change by monitoring performance, reassessing goals, and discussing strategies. More frequent one-on-one meetings actually end up saving managers time by providing a forum to address and resolve problems before they become larger issues.

Acknowledge Success

Money can’t buy happiness. Nearly 70 percent of employees say they would likely leave their job if they didn't feel appreciated. While raises and promotions are traditional ways to reward outstanding employees, sometimes a simple “thank you” can go a long way. One study found that most employees said the most meaningful accolade they had ever received held “no dollar value.” Encourage your managers to regularly recognize their direct reports and consider implementing a fun employee recognition program.

Make It Easy

As much as employees fear them, managers dread paper-ridden annual reviews, too. Consider abandoning paper forms in favor of an online performance tool. This approach can simplify and expedite the review process. Rather than keep track of physical forms, managers and their direct reports can easily revisit feedback throughout the year. Maintaining reviews electronically also helps both managers easily track and report on performance metrics.

While there are many ways to approach performance management, some organizations are replacing the traditional feedback process with 360 performance reviews. To learn more about conducting successful 360 performance reviews, check out our recent blog post.
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