How to give someone a productive and meaningful review
Hopefully your agency has a process in place for annual and quarterly reviews for you to follow including a review template. (If not, insist one is put in place).
Take time to go over the previous review; objectives, areas for development, key strengths, 360 feedback. This will ensure there is a link and relevance between the two reviews. (Also ensure your reviewee reads their previous review before the next one is conducted – you’d be amazed at how many times I have sat in meetings where its obvious they haven’t or been asked for a copy of their previous objectives the day before).
When you have received the 360 feedback, identify key themes. A good exercise is to read all the feedback and start by pulling out the positives first (some of us are naturally drawn to the negatives and if we start with these we tend to miss some really good stuff!)
If the people nominated by your direct report for 360 feedback is unbalanced (i.e. it’s all their mates and likely to therefore produce a very one dimensional type of feedback), I recommend you add one or two people into the mix. Advise your direct report that you have done this before the meeting.
When reviewing and ranking how well objectives have been achieved ensure you have specific examples to support your ranking. (If the objectives were not SMART* you may run in to difficulties).
I believe that objectives should be co-authored, with the manager and direct report both writing objectives before the review and then discussing and agreeing them in the meeting. Ultimately the manager has the final say but when a direct report is involved in the process they tend to be more positive about them and motivated about achieving them.
Objectives should be in line with their current job spec but with one eye on the next level. They should motivate and stretch the person whilst being achievable with the right support.
Listen and be open – its all too easy to go in to a review with a clear opinion and discussion plan but your direct report might want to focus on different areas and have a different opinion. Be open to change your mind, objectives and POV on certain areas. Whilst you might not agree with them, this is about THEIR career progression so ensure they feel listened to and understood. (Allow the employee to speak more than you. Use the 80/20 rule, reviewee is talking 80% of time with you, their manager, 20%. That way it gets them really thinking and describing what they think has gone well and could be improved with you adding in anything missing. It makes individuals feel empowered).
Use ‘open’ questions when discussing the review to help them think and reflect on comments (i.e. a question that does not simply invite a yes or no answer).
A review is NOT the time to be discussing pay rises! This should be done separately.
Ensure there is agreement and alignment with all the key points of the review. If there are any contentious areas set up a meeting with a third party (ideally HR or a senior member of staff) with the objective of reaching agreement.
*S.M.A.R.T = specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely