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The Dreaded Annual Review

It’s December!  In addition to busy holiday preparations, that means year-end procedures for most businesses, which also means annual employee reviews. Most employers I know hate reviews.  In fact, they dread them.  They dread preparing for them, writing them, and giving them.

Here is the good news – annual reviews do not have to be the bane of your end-of-the year existence!  First, don’t look at the review as a dreaded chore but an opportunity to have a conversation with the people who run your business every day.  There is value in the conversation (notice I said conversation and not just you telling them how they are doing).  This is a chance for you to listen and hear what is working, what needs tweaking from their perspective, for you to give them feedback, and find out what you can do to make them better.

Next, when you are providing employees with feedback, don’t just focus on the employee’s day-to-day work, but show them how their performance impacts the company.  A typical receptionist review might include feedback that clients are being put on hold too long. Instead, think back to the company’s larger vision, mission, and values.  Does this employee understand what your business wants to accomplish?  How can this employee help you get there?  Use your values when providing feedback.  For example, if you are a business that “puts clients first,” explain how leaving a client on hold for 3 minutes works against the stated value.  Brainstorm together on ways to improve the process.

Finally, don’t limit the review and accountability process to once a year.  Most people will take the time to create goals for the employee during the annual review, but then won’t look at those goals again until the next annual review.  Make the written document a living document.  Review it at least monthly with the employee and track their progress throughout the year.  Turn the dreaded annual review into a celebration of the accomplishments you achieved together.


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