Year-End Reviews Preparing for and Delivering Reviews to Employees

Everyone looks forward to the year’s end for one reason or another – a chance to make new resolutions, or a company bonus. However, in order to determine the scale of wage raises and merit bonuses, we all have to get through year-end reviews. If you’ll be conducting some of these, check out our tips and tricks to help navigate through the next month or so.

Prepare Employees in Advance

The best managers and team leads communicate successes and areas for improvement prior to bi-yearly review time. What you communicate to your employees in a private review should not come as a surprise to a well-informed worker. In order to prepare your employees properly, send out a sort of worksheet that they can use to answer a few questions. This worksheet should reference the position description and include questions like:

  • What was your biggest accomplishment in the last 6 months?
  • What is your best strength, and how have you used it to improve recently?
  • What areas do you think you could use some help with?
  • What are your goals for the next 6 months? How can we help you achieve those goals?

Make sure you receive this worksheet back from your employees in ample time to review each thoroughly and make comments ready for review day. If there is a discrepancy between what your employee thinks of their progress and what your perception of their work has been, try to figure out why.

Prepare Yourself in Advance

While you’ll expect your employees to give a little in the way of conversation, you should be prepared with many talking points to keep the meeting rolling. Make sure to provide ample time between sections for questions and feedback. If you’ll be covering statistics and metrics, make sure to provide some context so that your employees know where they stand – if they’re excelling, make that clear. If your worker is lagging behind, make a plan to bring them up to speed and set them up with a mentor ahead of time.

Choose the Right Environment

One of the most important things you can do is to facilitate a non-threatening environment for your employees during review sessions. While you want to aim for professional, not casual, that doesn’t mean you need to set a sterile tone. Employees will be more receptive to both positive and negative feedback if they feel safe and supported. Let them know you’re here to help them succeed, whatever that means.

Follow Up and Request Feedback

This part may be best if employees are able to remain anonymous – if you ask them to put their names on feedback forms, your workers are less likely to give negative opinions; after all, you are their boss! Following up after quarterly or bi-annual reviews is imperative, especially if you made promises to assist someone in catching up. Follow through on any help you offered and check-in at regular intervals – this way, your employees don’t feel forgotten or directionless. 

Well-prepared performance reviews are an indication of a great employer-employee relationship. It is with this that you build an environment of success and support in the workplace. Take the opportunity this year to one-up last year’s reviews; both you and your workers will benefit from having a bit more direction and clear-cut goals to work towards.

Delivering Positive Feedback: Helping Your Co-Workers Succeed Through Positivity

Have you ever been asked to conduct a peer review? It’s probably one of the toughest and most dreaded things you can face as an employee – often we don’t feel in the right position to be offering feedback to our peers. Contrary to what you might initially think, you are, in fact, uniquely qualified for this task! In fact, even if you aren’t explicitly asked, you should always be looking for ways to build up your team members. Offering useful, constructive criticism is a great place to start.

One of the first things you should admit to yourself is that you may have more experience with how a peer works on a day-to-day basis – how they react to stress, large projects, or negative customer interactions. How often do they require assistance or ask for help without going to a manager? Your daily experience working with your peers is uniquely valuable to your superiors!

Don’t Be Vague

While a general pat on the back can make someone feel good, it won’t necessarily point out what their strengths are. Give as much detail within your verbal or written feedback as you can; discuss how you observed their strengths play into this positive outcome. Encourage your peers to harness more of what is being praised in the future!

Don’t Shy Away

Often, we may notice an area for improvement in our peers – if it’s obvious that someone is struggling with something, it’s in no one’s best interest to stay silent. Finding the perfect way to word constructive criticism can be hard, but that shouldn’t stop us from offering it. Feedback should always be delivered with the improved performance of the individual in mind; you are here to help them identify how they can use their strengths to tighten up the loose ends.

Don’t Patronize

If you do need to deliver some constructive criticism, skip the “sandwich” approach (delivering a negative tidbit in between two positives). This tactic is always obvious, and it can be received quite poorly by some people. While a “sandwich” may seem to lessen the blow, it can actually bring down the recipient even further. Choose instead to level with your peers, taking an approach more like this: “here’s what’s happening, and here’s how we can leverage your strengths to fix it”.

Keep it Professional

Some people are simply more likely to take criticism personally than others – in those cases, try your best to be gentle in your approach. Others, however, are extremely open to new ideas and love hearing that others are invested in their success. Keep in mind as you formulate peer reviews, or consider providing feedback, that your comments should only address this person’s work. This will help the recipient not feel attacked or targeted in any way.

Positive peer feedback can help create a great company culture where employees feel supported and cared for by their peers. While comments from supervisors are nice, knowing that your team members care about your success can improve performance and inspire confidence. Take every opportunity you can to build up your coworkers – even outside of peer reviews.

6 Strategies to Increase Company Morale

With the changing seasons and upcoming holidays, you may be wondering if there are strategies you can implement, to help boost morale among your staff. You might have some ideas or recognition practices in place, but you’re looking to do more. Today, we’ll highlight a few suggestions that you can pursue throughout this fourth quarter, to foster an environment of loyalty and fulfillment within your teams.

Company Sponsored Lunches

Surprise your teams with a company-sponsored lunch or two this holiday season. Maybe bring in pizzas for a job well done or completion of a recent project. Cater a full spread from a favorite local restaurant as a sign of appreciation for their loyalty. Get creative and try bagels as a breakfast treat. Decorated cookies are fun snacks that employees can also take home to their families. Give the gift of food as a simple yet effective method of improving morale.

Celebrate Milestones

Recognition for anniversaries, pivotal milestones, or recent accomplishments can solidify with your teams that you appreciate them. Send companywide emails or announcements to shine a spotlight on an employee’s achievements. Offer plaques with plated name recognition and display them in common areas. Consider supplementing these announcements with handwritten cards, signed by all, and a gift card as an additional gift. You’ll be providing direct recognition to the recipient, but will also set the tone for the others, that they too can expect their moment in the limelight for working hard.

Thoughtful Gifts

Companywide efforts to boost morale should be fair and consistent for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate thoughtful, more personal gifts as well. For example, if someone on your staff is an avid football fan, consider gifting a mug or tee shirt featuring his or her favorite team. Specialized gift-giving can create authentic connections among your ranks. Employees who feel connected to their companies and managers are more fulfilled in their roles.

Health & Wellness

Jumps start morale by offering a host of health and wellness perks to your employees. Free or discounted gym memberships are popular corporate gifts. You can also scale down and implement periodic breaks throughout the day to encourage individuals to walk around and get up from their desks. Keep a common kitchen area stocked with complimentary water, fruit, or health-conscious snacks. Show your teams you care about their health and wellness, even when they’re on the clock.

Charity & Sponsorships

Listen to your teams and create a list of causes and sponsorship opportunities that are important to them. Increase morale by supporting an employee’s child recreational team. Offer to be a drop off location for a school supply, or coats drive. Your staff will recognize your efforts to align the company with charities that matter to them. You’ll also be promoting your corporate responsibility as an organization. Today’s workforce responds favorably to companies that give back. But, don’t just donate to any charity. Instead, donate time and resources to those your teams cherish the most.

Work Environment Upgrades

If it’s feasible, consider remodeling or upgrading common areas. If you’re in an office setting primarily, maybe renovate a break room and buy a few new appliances. If you’re more warehouse or field-based teams need a boost, maybe upgrade some of their tools or technology. Employees will take notice that your company is investing in making their jobs more efficient, or their environment more conducive for operation. The response will be an overall improvement in morale.

Remember, taking care of your team means making sure they are happy and challenged in their roles. They are your front line to company success. Tap into some of these suggestions, to help end your 2019 on a morale-boosting high note.