With annual performance reviews wrapped up and Quarter 1 well underway, it is time to look ahead at the year and capitalize on opportunities for professional development. Performance discussions open the conversation between leaders and employees, but continual conversations are how real changes are implemented in real-time. What is the next step after an annual performance review? Following-up on the discussion.
Here are four tips on how to approach a follow-up conversation after a performance discussion:
1. Be Proactive
The key to effective performance discussions is to remain proactive. Rather than waiting for problems to arise, try to plan for and identify issues that might occur down the road. 96% of all employees prefer to receive consistent evaluations or regular feedback, rather than wait for their formal performance review. Employees appreciate transparency and constructive feedback, so it is no surprise that continual conversations are a more effective strategy than the traditional annual review — they allow you to address problems in real-time and offer the opportunity for continuous coaching.
As a part of performance discussions, schedule a follow-up conversation. Ideally, this meeting should take place 1-2 months out from the initial review. This timeline allows enough space for employees to implement changes and provides managers the ability to track improvements in performance.
Here’s a Tip: Schedule your follow-up discussion at the end of your performance reviews with the individual. This provides a firm timeline and includes the employee in the process.
2. Bring Notes
Leading up to the initial performance discussion, both the manager and employee should prepare notes on which topics they would like to cover. This allows for an efficient conversation and ensures nothing goes overlooked. Take notes on the discussion as it happens; these notes offer a reflection on the conversation and serve as a record for how discussions have progressed over time.
It also allows for a way to jumpstart the follow-up conversation into the topics which need the most attention: Has performance increased based on the previous discussions? Do the systems and processes need to be improved to become more effective? By measuring quantifiable results, you can more easily identify whether your goals are achievable.
3. Discuss Future Goals
Only 14% of employees claim to have a clear understanding of their company’s strategy and direction. A lack of guidance from leadership clouds the objectives of the organization and leaves employees wondering how their work contributes to the overarching goal. In the workforce, managers can be an effective channel for communicating the needs of the organization, both on a short and long-term basis. You should discuss annual goals in the formal performance review, and use the follow-up meetings to reaffirm the goals and find ways to evolve and improve upon them.
These goals should align with current business initiatives. Doing so allows employees to see how they contribute to the overall success of the company. Make sure that the set goals challenge your employees, but that they are not unattainable. There are many structures for goal management, so choose the method that best helps you and your employees set ambitious goals that are still achievable.
Here’s a Tip: Goal-setting provides both the employee and the manager with a chance to identify what challenges can be tackled in the future. Ask your employees what they want to achieve and work together to create a roadmap to success that aligns with greater strategic objectives.
4. Provide Opportunities for Development
Studies have shown 92% of employees feel that professional development opportunities are very important to their job experience. People want to work for a company that invests in their career and their professional skills. Performance discussions open the conversation to identify which career skills employees would like to learn or need to improve upon.
Working with employees to determine their career path shows you are invested in their future. LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report found 94% of employees are more likely to stay with a company if it invests in helping them learn. Professional development is not a one-time conversation, it is a continual conversation between employees and the leadership of the organization.
Effective talent management requires ample opportunities for individuals to learn and grow within the organization. Take advantage of these follow-up discussions to find ways to learn collaboratively — you’ll find employee engagement, productivity, and retention rates will improve.
Here’s a Tip: Keep in mind “follow-up” is not synonymous with performance reviews. This conversation should be a brief check-in; more relaxed than a typical performance discussion. Create an open dialogue where your employees feel comfortable voicing their thoughts and opinions.
Annual performance evaluations are the first step towards continual development. By scheduling time to follow-up with employees and evaluate progress, you can continue the conversations started during reviews.
Originally published here.