Employee evaluations will motivate your employees to excel if their experience is enlightening. Employee reviews are a time for the employee and the manager to come together to define goals, create an opportunity to coach, solicit feedback from the employee, review positive contributions, as well as reviewing areas where personal growth is required and what support will be offered to get there. Most important, it is an opportunity to make the employee feel valued.

In no way should employee reviews be intimidating or carry negative connotations to the employee. How do your employees feel about the day of their approaching performance review? Do they dread it? Do your company’s performance reviews unknowingly deflate confidence and morale? While performance reviews have their purpose, the goal should be to improve employee-management relationships, communication, motivation, and morale.

To motivate your employees and increase morale, consider incorporating these 12 tips into your performance review:

1) Develop a specific schedule. Everyone involved needs to know how many reviews will be scheduled annually and when they will take place. Perhaps you want to schedule periodic mini-reviews to stay in touch with the employee regarding objectives, expectations, and performance – reserving a more formal review for once a year. Regardless, everyone needs to be aware of the schedule. Employees should be given notice well in advance as to the exact time and date of the evaluation so they are given an opportunity to prepare.

2) Express Positivity. The goal is to make the employee feel comfortable and valued. Do not place all of the focus on an area you feel needs improvement but rather concentrate on telling them what they do well. You can never give too much praise.

3) Expectations and goal setting. Exactly what is expected of the employee must be conveyed early in the training process. Goals must be established and communicated as well. It is also important to reveal how the employee’s performance will be evaluated. Keep in mind, if the employee does not thoroughly understand expected goals and performance outcomes of his or her job, success is unlikely.

4) Evaluation forms. Consider giving the employee a blank copy of the evaluation form. It can be helpful to have the employee fill the form out in advance of the meeting. The feedback can be very informative.

5) Preparation. In order for an employee evaluation to be successful, you must put time and effort into preparation.

6) Collect feedback from management. Collect feedback from co-workers and other supervisors who work closely with the employee.

7) Collect data. Collect hard data that measures the employee’s performance. Performance metrics help to clarify performance relative to intended targets and goals previously established.

8) Prepare Questions for the employee. Prepare a list of questions to allow the employee to express his concerns, feelings, needs, and ideas. The goal is to have a conversation not a lecture. Focus on quality listening to collect positive feedback so you can better help  the employee learn and grow their performance.

9) Growth Focus. Use evaluation reviews as an opportunity to build relationships and coach. The employee must trust your belief in him or her and your sincerity in helping them grow and improve. The agenda going into the review should be to praise and reward good performance, establish new expectations and goals, and develop paths for future improvement and growth.

10) Prepare dialogue. Discussing areas of needed employee improvement carries the risk of damaging morale. Be sure to give your dialogue considerable thought and preparation prior to the review so the conversation is positive and helpful.

11) Mini evaluations. The employee should never hear about the need for improvement for the first time in an annual evaluation. Career development is an ongoing process.  Schedule mini-evaluations at least four times a year to collect healthy feedback from the employee, review goals and expectations, and discuss paths for improvement and growth. A series of mini-evaluations will significantly improve the outcome of the annual reviews.

12) Focus on annual progress. It is human nature to only recall the most current performance of the last month or two rather than looking at employee improvement over a twelve month period. Good record keeping will be important to help with reviewing progress for the entire period rather than only what is most prevalent in your mind at the moment.

Your goal is to always improve rather than deflate your relationship and ability to interact with your employees. When your primary focus is on sincere listening and in developing paths to help the employee learn, grow, and improve, the evaluation will become an enlightening experience for both parties.

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