Assessing the performance of the employees is a necessity for any organization. The findings not only help employees improve at professional and personal level to perform better, but also contribute to the overall growth of the organization as a whole. But unlike informal conversations amongst peers or between a manager and an employee, employee appraisals bring out data related to the performance of an employee, details about his/her achievements, shortcomings, strengths and weaknesses, and action plans for the future. All that can have a massive impact on the performance of the employees and the organization.
The importance of documentation
So, organizations should have suitable mechanisms in place to capture the outcomes of these performance reviews in order to achieve meaningful progress. If the conversations between the managers and employees during a performance appraisal are not documented properly, then all the suggestions, feedback and plans will be lost, and it would be impossible to follow up on that, making reviews far less useful. Therefore, documentation of performance review is as important as the review itself.
The purpose of documentation
The purpose of documentation of a review is not to record conversations and feedback as they are, but also to disseminate them for future reference. Documenting a review is not similar to writing minutes of the meeting.
While meeting minutes are merely for reference, a performance review gives a measurement of performance. It gives numerical data, qualitative feedback and finally, an agenda and guidelines for an employee to follow in order to achieve the goals during the next review period.
So, it is essential to create a clear, thorough and legible document that can be not only shared with the concerned employee, but also with other authorized personnel who manage the workforces.
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Documenting a performance review
Following are some of the points to remember while documenting a performance review.
1. Standardize the format
The feedback from a performance review has to clearly communicate the outcomes of the review in a way that everyone can understand uniformly. If the review of two employees is documented in two different ways, then it creates room for interpretation, which can have broader implications. For instance, it can affect the employee’s career growth. So, there should be no room for misinterpretation.
For that, it is essential to create a standard format in which you can input all the findings, data and feedback from the review. Many companies have communication guidelines that state how feedback has to be written. You can follow the guidelines and create the feedback template. It has to be also in a commonly accepted file format convenient for storing and sharing digitally. Once you standardize everything, it will be easy for everyone to understand.
2. Be flexible
Even though performance reviews are designed based on templates, different employees may share various levels of details and feedback. For instance, an employee may prefer to give more qualitative feedback regarding his/her career aspirations.
The feedback documentation format should have the flexibility to record everything he/she shares during the performance appraisal. So, improvise and expand the template to accommodate all the feedback.
3. Highlight the performance indicators
The key performance indicators are always in the form of numerical data. They provide the hard evidence for an employee’s performance in the review period and progress towards his/her goals.
It is the basis on which the performance of an employee is primarily rated. Since it is the most relevant part of the review, ensure that all the numerical data that supports the performance rating of an employee is provided and presented in a prominent and easily-observable manner.
4. Highlight achievements
While numerical data gives a good idea about an employee’s performance, highlighting his/her specific achievements puts his/her performance into the context of the employee’s specific role. When highlighting the achievements, it is essential to also back the claim with evidence. To help employees point out achievements that reviewers might overlook, consider adding a self-evaluation to your review process.
5. Provide fair, objective and complete feedback
When you document the review, make sure that the conclusions from the review are purely based on the facts and review criteria. Adding your own biases and subjective interpretations can break the trust the employee has on the organization.
6. Bring out the details
Add specific examples that depict the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, positives and negatives with respect to his/her role. Without examples specific to a particular context, the documentation would tie those observations to the overall character and attitude of the employee rather than his/her behavior in a particular scenario.
For instance, mentioning that the employee failed to meet the quality standards followed by the company conveys a message that the employee is always like that and is unfit for the role. Instead of that, specifying how a few batches of a product turned up substandard due to the gap in the understanding of the employee in a quality checking process would put the problem in perspective. It would further help the employee focus on those gaps and improve. It will let the organization arrange relevant training sessions for the employee to address the gaps.
7. Summarize the review with key outcomes
It is impossible for a manager to read through the entire document every time he/she wants to follow up on the progress of an employee. So, writing a concise summary, which includes a performance rating, key findings, goals for the next review period and the areas an employee needs to focus on, is crucial. It will help him/her quickly refer the documentation and periodically check on the progress of the employee.
8. Add supporting documents
A single performance appraisal in isolation does not provide the whole picture of the performance of the employee. Add more supporting documents such as the feedback the employee received in peer reviews and 360 degree reviews.
9. Share the document with the concerned employee
Once you complete the documentation, send it to the concerned employee and store the copy in a centralized location so that anyone authorized can quickly gain access to it.
Ensuring that you are setting up your performance review so that you can get clear documentation of the evaluation process as well as the discussion is a part of the process that is just as important as the review itself. When creating your performance reviews for employees, take into account these nine steps to documenting a performance review. To read more about how you can conduct effective reviews, visit the performance management section of the Profit.co blog.