Six Tips For Stress-Free Goal Setting & Performance Review Sessions

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What is it about springtime that gets us in the mood to rejuvenate and refresh? You employee performance review formsprobably started out the year with the best intentions, armed with all sorts of HR forms to make things run more smoothly, like custom attendance forms, employee history folders, and performance review forms.

But maybe those good intentions have fallen by the wayside. (Sound familiar?) Not to worry! It’s the perfect time of year to get back on track.

All that said, we understand settings goals with employees and reviewing their performance can be just as stressful for YOU as it is for them.

Here are six tips to make sure it’s a productive and stress-free session.

1. Lead with the good. You’ve likely heard this tip before, but it’s worth repeating: start with the positive. People need to hear what they’re doing well. It will help build their confidence, put them at ease, and show them the things they should continue doing.

2. Be consistent. When we say consistency, we mean from top to bottom: be consistent in how often you have performance reviews and goal-making sessions. Be consistent in the amount of time you give to each employee. Be consistent in the manner in which you perform reviews (e.g. open with the positive), and be consistent in your treatment of employees. As for how often you meet, it will depend on the type of company you have, but it certainly can’t hurt to sit down with each employee every quarter.

3. Be organized. These sessions can be stressful enough (for all involved!). Don’t make them even more stressful by pausing or stopping the session because you can’t find the right human resource forms or you’ve grabbed the wrong set of paperwork. Invest in tools that will keep everything organized, such as comprehensive employee history folders and padfolios.

4. Be reasonable. The goals you and your employees set together should be ones they can reasonably achieve in the time period you’ve identified. Sure, it’s good to throw in a “reach” goal — one that they may or may not achieve due to time constraints and other issues. But the majority of the goals should be ones they can accomplish. If you discover during your next sit-down session that your goal-making was too aggressive, then scale back and/or adjust expectations. Don’t set up your employees to fail — help them succeed!

5. Seek help/coaching if you need it. Still uncomfortable or unsure if you’re doing the most effective job during these sessions? Seek some objective advice and guidance from someone like a business coach or HR consultant.

6. End with something positive and schedule the next session. Just as you opened with something positive about your employee’s performance, you should strive to end on an “up” note as well. Also, the conclusion of the meeting is the perfect time to schedule the next session (which reinforces the consistency concept above and also shows your employee you’re serious about the items you discussed during the meeting).

If you manage employees, how often do you meet with each individually, and what tips can you offer to make the meetings go smoothly? Share in the comments.

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