As managers, you can make the most of each performance review you conduct just by creating a safe environment where you can connect, engage, and align with a member of your team. Instead of talking at someone, choose to discuss how you can work together to improve, evolve and develop them as a whole person. This holistic approach will give you better results, provide your team the comfort they need to be themselves, and paint a better picture of success for everyone. Implement the SAFE model to get you there.
Set the Stage
Setting the time and place of performance reviews with intention will lead to more beneficial conversations. Level the playing field to create a neutral space by taking the conversation outside of your personal office. Go to a coffee shop, or go to the conference room, but be sure to make sure it’s a place that your team member will feel comfortable. Prepare your conversation in the mindset that you will offer constructive feedback balanced with affirmation. Letting them know that they aren’t there to be reprimanded, cut down, or harshly criticized is the key to making the most of your time together.
Aim for Authentic Connections
We all look for authenticity in others. It’s how we connect. Take a personal and genuine interest in their personal and professional lives and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable! Sharing personal anecdotes and experiences from your life makes you approachable, relatable and identifies you as someone people can trust. Take this approach into the performance review setting and your team member will be more at ease.
Foster a 2-way dialogue
Unfortunately, it’s more common than not for performance reviews to be viewed as a time for the manager to talk and for the employee to listen. If that’s you, step outside the box! Strive for a more employee-driven conversation comprised of questions that yield thoughtful answers and constructive conversation. Try asking things like, what are you most proud of since the last time we talked? or what would you do differently if you had the opportunity? You’ll be surprised what you learn and how quickly a conversation can become about working better together rather than how someone can work better for you. Be mindful of the feedback you provide during these conversations. Being constructive in your response is absolutely fine but being combative is not. Don’t forget to watch for any triggers!
End with Action
When the performance review comes to an end, set an intention around the things you discussed. Set actionable goals together and be sure to ask if there’s anything you can do to help them achieve those results. Leave your team member feeling inspired and ready to act. Focus on saying things like, I love the results you’ve produced so far, I’m excited to see more as we work on these goals together! Avoid any threatening language like If you’re going to stay in this role, we need to get these results. Lastly, end with some light-hearted conversation that isn’t work-related. People will remember how you made them feel, and this is a great way to help them log your conversation as a positive memory.