Tips HR professionals can share with managers ramping up for performance reviews

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It’s getting close to the end of the year, and that means it's almost time for year-end performance reviews for both managers and employees. It's a time that everyone dreads because it can be so uncomfortable. Managers have to sit down with their employees and rate them on how they are doing — what they are doing well, and what needs to change. It's a tough position for both sides, but there is a reason why performance reviews are put into place. When used in the right way, these reviews can be a valuable tool that helps your employees grow. Here are four tips you — as human resources professionals — can use to help coach managers through performance reviews.

Communicate with your employees

If you want to have a successful performance review, you need to be able to communicate. This sounds simple, but how many managers do you know who sit there and read off of a paper without looking at the individual employee they are talking to? Both you and your employees need to feel like you are there for a reason, and that the review isn't just a formality. You need to be honest and sincere, otherwise you risk that your employees won't absorb what you say to them. Think about how you want to be treated and the approach that you would appreciate. Don't just tell someone they are excelling or underperforming; let them know why you think this. Use data and facts, which will provide a concrete aid that your employees can see and understand.

Be sure that the employee is engaged

Performance reviews are put in place to collect information from both employees and managers. Communication is a two-way street, and you have to make sure that the employee is engaged in the conversation. There is no reason why employees should be forced to sit passively and take criticism without getting the opportunity to speak for themselves or justify their actions. Giving employees the opportunity to speak will show managers their employees' priorities and focus points.

Listen to their feedback

This is similar to keeping the employee engaged: You need to listen to the feedback that your employees give you as well. Don't think that you are above their issues and concerns. Often times employees are the front lines of your workforce, and they will spot issues and possible solutions before you will. Take their feedback to heart and use the review as an opportunity to see what's really going on. There are many employees who aren't going to go out of their way to sit down and talk with you at other times throughout the year, so it's in your best interest to talk with each and every person and see what they think about certain issues. You may find a simple solution to a problem you've been trying to tackle or discover a new problem you didn't even know existed.

Using performance support technology

After the review is over, that doesn't mean business should go back to what was before. Reviews are valuable in part because they help to identify places where there is room for improvement. You and your team should take the information that was exchanged and use it to help bring improve performance.

Yet the question remains: How can we practically provide the continued assistance that employees need during their day-to-day activities? Increasingly, businesses are looking at performance support technology options as a solution. Numerous tools — the company I work for, WalkMe, is an example – can be utilized to provide support to the employee in the exact moment of need. For example, performance support aids can be used on any enterprise software or website and can provide direct step-by-step guidance as employees need it. These tools help employees feel more empowered and confident, and of course efficiency levels go up as well.

It’s important to remember that monitoring employee performance is just part of the overall relationship between managers and employees. If the communication is there, and the proper tools are given to succeed, employees will feel more engaged, motivated and ready to take steps to raise their performance levels and to help the company grow and compete.

Jason Silberman is Marketing Director at WalkMe, an interactive online guidance system and engagement platform, which reduces training times and costs, while raising performance levels. He is the lead author and editor of Training Station, a blog devoted to news and ideas on training, learning and employee performance. He recently published a free eBook – "Express Train: How to Accelerate Employee Time to Competence"– with tips on overcoming some of the common challenges in employee training. Follow him at @tstationblog.