Ending the Year Strong: Effective Employee Reviews

20th December 2021

December is one of the most wonderful and stressful times of the year. It can be easy to forget about employee reviews between the fun of wrapping up Secret Santa presents and the pressure of wrapping up client projects.

But, these reviews are a crucial part of an employee’s development and shouldn’t be overlooked among the festive craziness. It also gives employers an opportunity to set the tone for the upcoming year — if they’re done right.

Continue reading to learn how to get the most out of your employee reviews this December and enter 2022 with your best foot forward.

Feedback: It’s a Two-Way Street

A fear of feedback isn’t uncommon among employees — and it’s not because they don’t want to improve or don’t want to hear it. It’s generally due to a natural negativity bias that means the sting of constructive criticism can linger longer than the joy of praise. That doesn’t mean you should avoid candid performance reviews, but you may need to pivot your approach to ensure you’re making the most out of the meeting.

Managers who take a top-down approach to feedback aren’t getting the most out of the session. Instead, they encourage a setting where the employees’ input is minimal and seemingly unimportant. Sitting there and listening to a ‘superior’ tell you what you’re doing wrong from their sole perspective can damage an employee’s morale and engagement levels.

It’s, therefore, important to consider performance reviews as a two-way street, where employees have the space to give any input they might have. Not only is this beneficial for the employee, but you may also learn something new that could benefit the entire company.

Here are a few examples of questions to ask your employees to get a better understanding of their experience in the company, support their needs, and encourage an open dialogue:

  • How can the company better support your productivity?
  • How can we make your job more enjoyable?
  • What do I do that is most/least helpful for you when it comes to completing your work?

End-of-year Employee Reviews Best Practices

Only 14% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve. The main point of these reviews is to help staff grow and thrive in their role. If that’s not being achieved, then something needs to change.

We’ve outlined four key practices to help ensure your employees leave their end-of-year review feeling motivated and raring to go.

1. Start with the Good Stuff

It’s easy to focus on what went wrong throughout the year. You probably remember the failures more than the successes — but so do employees. Their shortcomings will be obvious to them even before the review.

Positive feedback can take a backseat in the day-to-day busyness of work. So, use the beginning of the performance review to highlight employees’ strengths and achievements. You can also explore which kinds of behaviours are valued in the company to ensure that behaviour continues in the future.

Starting on a positive note will set the tone for the rest of the discussion and ease any nerves.

2. Set (Attainable) Goals

If employees feel like they’re stagnating in their role, they could become disengaged and start looking for new opportunities elsewhere. By setting goals and challenges for the new year, you give your team something to look forward to and work towards.

However, there’s an art to effective goal-setting. The goals need to be realistic, specific and attainable to achieve the desired results of an engaged team. If you set unrealistic expectations, you risk stirring up feelings of apathy rather than motivation. You wouldn’t take part in a game knowing that you’re always going to lose, so why would your employees?

Set your employees up for success by following the SMART goals approach:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

3. Reframe ‘Negative’ Feedback

If employees view the end-of-year review as punitive rather than constructive and helpful, it can work to demotivate and pressurise them — the exact opposite of the intended effect.

Instead, try reframing any negativity in a more positive light. For example, if you notice that an employee is struggling in certain areas, discuss how you can help them perform more efficiently to reach their full potential.

It’s also worth using the end-of-year review to define what excellence in the role looks like to build a clearer picture of what’s expected of employees. This gives the team the chance to reflect on their performance so far and calls attention to what they can achieve in the future.

4. Repeat!

According to Gallup, 26% of employees say their performance is evaluated less than once a year, while 48% say they are reviewed annually. That’s at least twelve months of shifting business priorities and evolving personal lives.

By holding frequent reviews, managers can accurately describe an employee’s performance and give them the opportunity to be immediately responsive to the topics discussed.

If you don’t have the time available to hold regular one-on-ones with employees, supplement them with a platform like Trickle. For instance, you can give ‘shoutouts’ on the platform to individuals who are smashing their goals. Additionally, you can gather employee insights on the review process, empowering you to tailor the conversation in a way that promotes employee growth and engagement in the future.

Keep Employees Thriving with Insights from Trickle

Give your business the gift of Trickle this December. Our app makes it simple for employers to harness the power of employee feedback to build a more efficient and productive workplace.

Ask for suggestions, share positive feedback, and track the mood within the business to keep your employees happy and engaged.

Click below to get your free demo today.

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