Best Practices for Employee Feedback & Reviews

November 15, 2016

Company success is predicated on employee success, so savvy entrepreneurs and human resource directors are looking at comprehensive programs, policies, and procedures designed to build and cultivate that most important company asset: its workforce.

In the not too distant past, for the average American worker, company orientation amounted to nothing more than filling out a pile of government forms, and once duly signed, initialed, and filed away in triplicate, the new employee is escorted to their new workstations to begin their professional career.

This seemed to work fine for a while. But, now, many employers have noticed noticed that new staff hires were unlikely to hold their position for longer than 24-months. Indeed, according to the United States Department of Labor, over a quarter of the American workforce has held their position for less than a year.


How Employee Development Can Increase Employee Retention

Today, in an effort to inculcate a sense of community amongst an increasingly restive and mobile workforce, the notion of “onboarding” has gained credence as credible intellectual currency in the development of a stable and resilient workforce.

According to a 2013 Forbes article, “helping your employees shape the future direction of their careers is a critical component to your company’s overall success.” The failure to put together a professional development plan for incoming employees risks alienating tomorrow’s workforce, which is no longer wedded to the concept of lifelong employment with a single company. As proof of this fact, today’s employees demonstrate a marked tendancy towards following their own development plan, even if that means hopping from job to job in search of that fulfillment.

A critical aspect of onboarding that is often overlooked is that onboarding really must be ongoing. One excellent tool for the development of a talented employee pool is an ongoing and continuing dialogue, which suggests the value of knowing the best practices for employee feedback and reviews.

Companies use the performance appraisal process to continually grow and advance their workforce. Your employees are your most important resource, and if they are not continuously growing in skills, confidence, and knowledge, then your company is missing the use of important human capital, which is instrumental in moving your business forward.

Do not be caught in the trap of thinking that your employee is only at his or her desk and that they will be happy there forever. This is a mistake. Instead, unleashing their potential begins with a frank assessment of their current skill sets, and an employee performance review is the place to start.


Best Practice for Employee Feedback and Performance Reviews

The chances are good that unless you are a food or a film critic, you are uncomfortable criticizing those around you.

That being said, as a manager you do understand the importance of providing feedback to your staff as a way of guiding their ongoing professional development.

As such, the employee performance review process should not be viewed in a negative lighting, and an annual employee performance appraisal affords you the chance to sit down with your staff on an individual level and connect with them on the things that they are doing well. It also offers a roadmap towards leading an employee having trouble on the right path back to full productivity.


Using Template Designs for Superior Results

The well-crafted employee performance review is an excellent tool in the supervisor’s tool belt, which is perfect for obtaining a non-biased appraisal of your staff.

In fact, for that reason, one of the best practices you can adopt for the development of employment feedback and performance reviews is the adaptation of standardized templates that will help serve to level the bias play field. Employees want to succeed, and the employee performance review is an excellent way to show them how well they are doing in the reach for their goals.

For employees not meeting those goals, but are worthy of continued support, the employee performance evaluation template offers a non-threatening way to address the situation and arrive at workable solutions moving forward.

This approach offers a myriad of advantages to the forward thinking management team:

  • Building Loyalty—when an employee feels as if they have “skin in the game,” they come to understand that the company’s success begets their own success. As such, devoting professional development resources to their success is an excellent way of building company loyalty.
  • The Personal Touch—psychologists have long known that people respond well when someone takes a genuine interest in their future, so extending this fact of human nature to the boardroom helps string the bonds of loyalty between employee and employer.
  • Employee Retention—talented people rarely like to sit idly by on their laurels without a meaningful opportunity to advance in their career. A comprehensive employee feedback program ensures that that impulse is acted on in a way that benefits both the employee and the company.

The advantages of utilizing an employee performance evaluation template is that it provides a firm benchmark on data points that every worker must meet thus ensuring a non-biased review process. And, importantly, it saves you time. 

All of Alchemer’s survey templates can be added to your account in just one click and are fully customizable to suit your organization’s needs.


Can Performance Reviews Really Improve Employee Retention?

Recent studies suggest a strong correlation between high retention rates and well-implemented employee performance review. In short, companies that buy into an efficient employee feedback programs have employees that buy into the company.

Some of those advantages include:

  • Reduced turnover
  • Accelerated performance
  • Establish team trust
  • Shorten time to productivity

Opening an employee dialogue is more than a tactical solution to stem employee turnover, it is a strategic decision to utilize the full range of an employee’s talents over the long term, and forward thinking companies are quickly adopting is as a solution to a mobile and restive workforce.

Oftentimes, performance appraisals unearth problems that the employee was entirely unaware of, and most welcome the opportunity to be guided away from problem career areas.

To be successful, a staff performance appraisal, indeed, the entire performance appraisal process should be geared towards providing helpful, non-threatening direction for employees experiencing difficulties, and unabashed praise for those aspects of their career that are working well.

So, it’s not just employee performance reviews. You must also put into place the systems that actually help employees put their feedback into practice.


Guiding Development With Bite-Sized Knowledge

It is the role of the human resource manager to guide their employees in developing personal development goals. This personal development plan will help build the employee’s confidence, as well as adding value to the company, as they come to see their own role in the company defined and shaped through personal development plan examples that give meaning to their daily activities.

In formulating an individual development plan for employees, managers are wise to break down learning and development tasks into smaller increments that move beyond the mere personal development plan template into real world applications. As such, like any good teacher, the human resources manager must use an individual development plan example to gauge the employee’s level of competence before adding another element of responsibility to their plate.

As individuals master the components of an individual development plan sample, they build the confidence that they need with an understanding of where their efforts pay off in the company’s larger picture. Guiding this awareness, and building the careers of these employees at the same time is instrumental to a company’s long-term success.


The 360 Review Method of Employee Development

The 360 Review methods recognize that employees are more than the sum total of heir workplace productivity. Indeed, this method seeks to tease out information that perhaps the employee themselves did not understand played a role on holding them back professionally and personally.

As the old adage says, “If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.” When it comes to establishing professional development goals, that failure is realized by not establishing benchmarks against which development goals can be measured. Examples of professional goals might include mastering the office software system within 90-days, or exceeding sales goals within a prescribed period. As such, don’t fail your new employees by failing to provide professional development goals examples that the employee can master before moving on to other professional goals examples to explore, master, and conquer.

That being said however, a 360 review should not be confused with a performance review because they are not designed with the same goals in mind. 360 reviews enable employees the opportunities to build on their business and interpersonal goals to find a better balance between themselves and the team dynamic.

As a tool, it focuses on three key aspects of employee feedback to include:

  • Finding starting point for new skill development
  • Establish measurable progress
  • Countering personal blind spots that inhibit personal growth


What 360 Reviews Do Best (and How to Get Started with 360s)

Unlike the standard performance review, which is a decidedly top down affair that rarely addresses the larger underlying issues, 360 reviews broaden the scope of inquiry by including frank self assessments buttressed by peer reviews that might shake one’s confidence in their own interpersonal communication skills.

This provides a multilevel perspective regarding a host of issues ranging from exploring that employee’s leadership abilities, problem solving skills, teamwork abilities, and management skills. This approach provides balance to the assessment that the employee can take away from the process that is supported and designed to point them in the direction of success. Nonthreatening, and aimed to compliment the good while redirecting the bad, a 360-review assessment is an ideal way to address personality issues that bear on other teammate’s productivity levels.

Interested in getting started? Alchemer’s 360 Review Package includes customizable templates and benchmark data to help your employees (and your business) grow.

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