Performance reviews are essential for anyone who manages employees. You depend on them for your business’s health, and employees depend on them to know whether their efforts are taking them closer to their career goals. It is inevitable that at some point, you will need to give the bad news to an employee that their performance isn’t what is expected within your company. When that happens, how you deliver this news will set the tone for the employee’s future performance, and quite possibly, the morale within your company.

Examine the Job Description

It is imperative to review an individual’s job description before giving negative performance reviews. It is not uncommon for managers to “forget” that certain skills, tasks, and responsibilities were not included in the employee’s job description when they were hired. Sometimes, these are agreed upon and added after the fact, and sometimes they are implied but never confirmed. Always verify that whatever negative information you want to discuss is a fair and legitimate issue.

Be Concrete

Don’t use generalized statements. Instead, focus on specific examples. This is vital, whether it is an individual’s attitude toward work or a record of delivering underwhelming results. Moreover, never include something within a performance review that you can’t back up with evidence. Including hearsay and gossip can expose you to significant legal liability down the road.

Focus on the Positive

Every employee has strengths, and every employee has weaknesses. Even you. Would you rather hear more about how bad you are at your job or the tasks you excel at completing? Your employees are no different. Always start a negative performance review by focusing on the positive aspects of the employee’s performance. Use this to establish the personal standard the employee can use to compare and raise their underperforming traits to match.

Ask Questions; Don’t Make Statements

Asking questions helps you understand the perspective of your employee. It is also less threatening than statements. Statements are blunt and painful to hear; the result is a defensive response. Conversely, questions open the door to discussion. During this discussion, you are likely to discover clues to organizational issues, managerial issues, etc. that are influencing an underperforming employee’s behaviors and ability to meet your expectations.

Extend an Opportunity to Change

A negative performance review should always be delivered as an opportunity to change. By establishing clear and defined benchmarks and an action plan for improving performance, you extend an underperforming employee an opportunity to rise to the occasion. You give them a map to follow. In many cases, employees who receive this type of guidance can rise and become next year’s top performers.

Schedule Follow-Ups

These can be short meetings you hold with the employee to discuss the benchmarks and action plans. Follow-up meetings are an opportunity to coach the employee and to address any potential questions or concerns that either of you may have. These meetings also create an opportunity to deliver praise, which can improve morale and inspire an employee to perform beyond even their personal expectations. As the employee improves, gradually shorten the number of follow-up meetings until they are no longer necessary. At that point, make it clear that the underperforming issues were corrected and praise the employee for their improvement.

For more information on how our talent solutions platforms can help you manage performance reviews, contact Greenlink Payroll at (480) 385-2525. We will be happy to show you how utilizing iSolved’s robust, yet simple talent management tool can help you get better results for your employees and the company.