Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Preparing for the meeting, part of Performance Review Foundations.
To ensure you execute your employee evaluation successfully, let's think a little more about how to prepare for the actual meeting. Even if you think you've prepared in terms of reviewing all relevant performance data, there are still several other little details you need to nail to ensure a smooth process. Starting three weeks out, for the last time, send individual emails and if possible, drop by their cube or office to confirm the meeting time and place. It's also a good idea to ask if they have any questions.
They might have questions about the due date for certain tasks they're completing, questions about anything that's new in the evaluation system this year, or possibly questions about the agenda for the meeting. Remember, we don't want surprises. So give them an early chance to speak up. At two weeks out, it's time to book the room you'll use for the evaluation meetings. My biggest piece of advice for you here is not to use your office. Going to the boss's office, for many employees, feels like going to the principal's office when you were in elementary school.
Even if you weren't in trouble, kids would still get nervous about being around the principal. The same is true for many employees and their bosses. The status difference is real, and it's very much associated with the different physical offices you occupy at work. So the answer is simple. To level the playing field and divert attention away from the status difference, choose a neutral location. You do want privacy so an unused office could work. Though a conference room is even better because it has more room, and the added space will make people more comfortable.
Now we're down to one week out, and it's time to ask a difficult question. Do you believe that any of your evaluation discussions will be contentious? When you look back over the performance period and consider your interactions with each team member, if you recall altercations or moments of conflict, it might be reasonable to expect a difficult conversation. Typically, an evaluation takes place between a boss and a subordinate. There isn't a need for a witness. The exception is when you have a reasonable belief the conversation will be difficult, then having an HR representative or another manager present can be useful.
But here's your conundrum. If you bring a witness, you will instantly raise the level of tension in the situation. For example, since we don't want surprises in evaluations, you're smart to inform the employee that a witness will be present a week or two before the meeting. That's fair, but it's also going to push the employee to experience stress or possibly anger. So here's my advice, be slow to add a witness and only go that route when recent conflicts between the employee and others, or the employee and you, were so strong that you actually had to address the conflict.
Maybe you initiated a tough conversation, verbally reprimanded someone, or formally added a letter to their file. Under these conditions, a witness might be wise. Now finally, it's the day of your first employee evaluation meeting of the year. Here's a pre-meeting checklist to get you ready to go. First, consider your attire. You want to use your version of acceptable office casual. Every work place is different, so stay within the office norms. But the point is simple. Don't dress highly formal, because you don't want to add unnecessary formality to an already challenging conversation.
Next, plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early that day. You want to get off to a great start, and don't want unexpected traffic or other hassles to slow you down. Worst case, you're simply 30 minutes early and have more time to prepare. Now it's time to set up the room you booked for the meetings. Here's an important tip, don't sit across from each other. Have the employee sit on the same side of the table with you, about five feet away. You're the boss, but you want to reinforce that you're also colleagues collaborating together, not adversaries working against each other.
Next, for the final time, skim the review for the first meeting. If you've been following my advice, this will be at least the third time you've looked at the data and your review. So by now, it should be very clear in your mind. Then grab any relevant copies of company policy and contact information for HR in the event the employee doesn't want to sign their evaluation, or if they wish to discuss their options with someone other than you. This isn't terribly common, but it's smart to be prepared. Finally, tell your administrative support person to hold your calls except for clear emergencies, and turn off your cellphone.
You can check in between meetings. That's it. You've done your homework and you're prepared to deliver a fair and useful evaluation. When you see employees gain clarity and focus and thank you for your advise and consult, you'll be glad you put in all of that work.
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- Understanding the performance cycle
- Setting performance goals
- Collecting performance data and feedback
- Writing the review
- Discussing performance with an employee
- Using a performance improvement plan (PIP)<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.