How to create an engaging employee performance review
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Have you ever heard the statement, “People don’t leave companies. People leave managers?” Managers play a critical role in the success of the company through how they engage their employees. I learned early on as a manager that how I managed and led my teams would also determine my success as a leader as I moved onto more influential roles. I have observed the successes other managers have experienced as well with their own teams when they prioritized the engagement of their teams. Some teams worked so much more cohesively together, like a well-oiled machine while others were simply patching projects together. Engaged teams had higher morale, more trust among the team and the managers, a sense of pride, support for the culture and goals of the company and typically lower employee turnover.
In my earlier days of managing teams, I wanted to be just as impactful as some of the managers I had observed. In this pursuit, I found myself contemplating many questions around how I can be an effective manager and leader as well. I asked other managers how they were engaging their employees. I quickly learned there are many ways a manager can engage their employees - some effective, some not-so-effective. One way I have found to be effective has been through implementing an employee performance feedback and review.
Let me explain further.
Traditionally, performance reviews have been done annually, however recently, companies have learned that a once-a-year annual performance review does more damage to an employee’s morale than does recurring feedback and review. To test this theory, I added a continuous feedback and review process to my management repertoire and found that engaging my employees at multiple touch points throughout the year, I was able to observe an increase in employee engagement, greater employee retention, enhance communication and clarity, and improvements in employee productivity. It also helped me as their manager grow professionally. I began seeing similar kinds of results with my team as I had seen with other managers who implemented a similar approach.
Implementing and managing such a process however isn’t that simple of a task. This process can be time-consuming, stressful and downright difficult. As a newbie manager earlier in my career, I used to spend countless hours carefully compiling an exhaustive employee performance review that I tried to uniquely tailor to each individual. While the end deliverable was helpful in providing employee feedback, it was apparent that I needed a better approach to completing the performance review. While I did the best I could to complete the performance reviews, I found the final reviews lacked a comprehensive 360 perspective. Completing each review was also exhaustively time consuming, especially managing a growing team. Not only that, I found myself concerned with how much personal biases I may have affected the outcome of the reviews.
Nonetheless, over the course of completing countless employee performance reviews, I decided to create a more efficient and effective way to run the performance reviews anytime I wanted to with ease. In turn, I created a survey tool that made it easy for me to send the feedback survey to my employees, track which employees completed their survey, and also easily compile the results into a format that would allow me to easily produce an unbiased and comprehensive performance review ready to deliver to my employees.
With executing this new survey tool and process, I turned my loathing of the employee review process into a more enjoyable experience, not just for myself but for my employees. The new process I implemented provided a consistent, scalable, time-savings employee feedback method that helped me achieve what I initially set out to accomplish as a manager.
These days, there are countless ways to provide employee feedback with such modern pulse survey platforms such as Baboo HR, Namely, Reflektive, and 15Five to name a few. My purpose isn’t to offer a comparison of the best software platforms but to share with you a tool I’ve used over the years to engage my teams. It’s a simple and cost-effective survey template that you can use to start collecting employee feedback today and I’m making this tool available here for managers who are seeking to engage their employees in a similar way.
Get to know the Survey Tool
The premise of the survey tool is simple. It’s a tool that makes it easy for managers to engage their employees at any interim throughout the year (quarterly, mid-year or annually) to complete an employee performance feedback or review.
There are two parts to the survey tool. The first part contains the survey and the second part is the summary report. Both templates are editable and customizable. The survey form contains several sections that include the following components and together with the summary report, you can capture unbiased and comprehensive input.
Employee Name & Photo
Company Values Rating
Feedback from Peers and a self-review in a Start-Stop-Continue format
Example of the Survey Template
The summary report template makes it easy to compile the results and input into a final employee performance review document to share with your employees. It will include these sections:
Company Value Rating
Performance to KPI
Just copy and paste from the “Results” tab of the survey and input the relevant information in the summary report template. Google makes it easy to download the results into a Google sheet where you can easily average the corporate values results. All you need to do is average the scores from the ‘values’ section and highlight which value they scored the highest and the least in. These numerical values can provide a plethora of discussion points for you as their manager and also be a source of data to help develop an action plan to work on areas in which the employee is showing signs of under-performance, or on the other hand, offer high praise for areas showing higher performance.
Example of a Summary Report - Employee Performance Review
Are you ready to access the survey tool and begin preparing your next employee performance feedback or review?
GET THE SURVEY TOOL TEMPLATE
How to use the Survey Tool
Here are the steps to access the tool, how to use it, including some tips as you prepare your own employee performance feedback or review.
Once you get the survey tool in the form of a template, save a copy that you can work in. Once saved, you can customize both the survey template and summary report for your team and company. Simply swap out the corporate values for your own. If you don’t have a set of established company values, simply delete these questions. In our template, we use a fictitious company, Cookie Monster, which delivers freshly baked cookies through a cloud SaaS service. The employee under review is our family dog, Daisy.
Create a list of 5-7 peers whom your employee works with frequently. These individuals should have worked with the employee close enough to provide constructive feedback.
After finalizing the survey form, email or message the survey with the survey link to each of the team members in the peer set with a request to provide feedback. It’s important to also send the survey to the employee under review themselves. This provides the employee insight into the review process as well as encouraging them to do a critical self-review which you can use to compare and contrast their own feedback against their peer feedback and your input. Self-reviews are one of the most powerful parts of the review process. They provide insight into how self-aware the employee is on issues they need to work on and also how their perception aligns with that of their peers. In the email, explain that the feedback should take no more than 15 to 30 minutes to complete and provide a deadline for the survey to be completed. I have found five days ample time to provide feedback. If you provide more than five days, they are likely to forget or de-prioritize the task, and shorter than five days, you risk getting poorly thought out feedback. It’s also a good time to remind the peer group that their feedback will be received by you and kept anonymous to the recipient receiving the feedback. As the manager, you will be able to see each of the peer’s feedback and compile a final performance feedback while keeping the confidentiality of which peer provided which feedback. It’s also a good idea to remind the group that they can speak with you about any confidential issues that they don’t feel comfortable documenting.
Finally, when you’ve received all the feedback, compile the feedback into a performance review using the summary report template (see example above). The completed summary report will be the formal performance review that you will share with your employee. Once all of the results are in, you can simply copy and paste the responses into the summary report and include your own feedback as well. As a manager, you have the advantage of reading and summarizing the peer feedback and contrasting it against the self-review before you write your own comments. This can help the employee understand your perspective and help them digest the peer feedback into actions as well.
When you're ready to schedule the review, consider holding it over a lunch meeting to get the employee out of the office if possible. Also, Try to send the summary report at least 24 hours before the review meeting so the employee has sufficient time to read the report. If you are including a comp change, I suggest not including this until AFTER you have the meeting with your employee as it’s a fun news to share in person. Providing the report ahead of time allows the employee to synthesize their thoughts before meeting with you. If you send the report too far in advance, it can cause them to agonize over it unnecessarily. If a lunch meeting is not possible, I recommend scheduling a separate meeting from a standard 1:1 to signal that this is a different meeting and not intended to touch base on the status of projects or overcome current obstacles. This meeting is specifically designed to review their overall performance.
It’s always a good idea to coordinate with your HR team on the review as well, especially if you are planning on changing the employee’s comp related to the review. Employees really value the feedback even if there is not an opportunity to make a comp adjustment, but it’s important to set that expectation with them before starting the review process. Finally, your review should also include any quarterly or annual key performance indicators that the employee is responsible for driving. A simple table showing what the goal KPI was along with what the actual measured result is an important and objective way to provide feedback to the employee on their overall contribution to the business.