Annual performance reviews are awkward for both managers and employees, and often both sides walk away from the meeting feeling worse about their jobs than when they walked in. Reviews shouldn’t be uncomfortable; they should be an opportunity to spur an employee’s improvement and inspire him or her toward growth and accomplishment.

Here are a few things that employees actually want to see in their annual reviews:

  1. Prompt praise—High-performing employees need to know when they are doing well so they keep on doing it. Workers are more likely to perform better if they get recognition when they do their jobs well. An annual review is a great time to bring up moments when an employee shined. Be sure to do this regularly throughout the year as well. The benefits of praise fade as time passes.
  2. Real feedback—Managers should walk into performance reviews with real examples of work performance. Feedback lets workers know where they stand in the company, what they are doing right, and what they could do better. Giving meaningful feedback requires a lot of work by the manager. Rather than just passively guiding a team, managers should watch and take note of what employees are doing. By evaluating employees year-round, managers make performance reviews easier and more meaningful.
  3. Clear and concise expectations—Many managers often don’t have clear expectations of what they want or need, which can make workers feel like they’re trying to hit a moving target. The organization’s expectations should be laid out clearly in the employee handbook, and it’s always helpful for managers to put numbers on goals and to provide guidance for how employees spend their time.
  4. Set attainable goals—Marching an employee into an annual review and berating them for not reaching the company’s stretch goals isn’t going to help anyone. Set expectations that employees can reach. Praise them when they reach them, and find ways to help them get there when they can’t. Nothing motivates employees like reaching a goal consistently.
  5. Give steps for employee growth—Employees who feel they’ve stagnated may soon leave for another job. Annual reviews are a great time to lay out employees’ progress and show them the path they should take to advance in their career. Managers should ask employees about their goals with the company and give them advice on how to reach them.
  6. Perform frequent evaluations—When employees walk into their annual reviews, they should already know what’s coming due to ongoing feedback they’ve received throughout the entire year. Feedback should come immediately after the employee does something positive or negative, and annual reviews should sum up what the employee and manager already know. It’s an opportunity to make sure that everyone is on the same page and to set goals for the coming year.

Structuring annual reviews can be difficult for even the best managers. Let LBMC Employment Partners help your company create an annual review strategy that energizes and motivates employees. To learn more, contact us today.

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LBMC Employment Partners, LLC, a member of the LBMC Family of Companies, is a world-class professional services firm. LBMC Employment Partners provides a comprehensive suite of human resource-related services to businesses including Professional Employer Organization (PEO) services, HR Outsourcing (HRO), Payroll, Human Resource Consulting, Employee Benefits, and ACA Compliance Consulting. For more information visit