Many believe that one of the most stressful aspects of performance management is the performance review. But employers and supervisors will know that the entire process can be a challenge. Whether your organization has a small pool of employees or hundreds, managing teams and individuals needs a dedicated mind and a comprehensive process. Your company and your employees have discernible goals to aim for, and the performance management process is meant to help both achieve these goals. Goals are generally set at the beginning of the financial year, with a review being held in the third or last quarter to discuss the progress an employee has made and what they still need to improve, as you can see in these performance review examples. It is not surprising that employees are fearful of performance reviews, and the stress of this can impact their working abilities. How can employers make the performance review, and overall management process, easier for all involved? Here are five top tips. Open Lines of Communication A company cannot function without adopting effective communication methods. This is particularly true in the performance management process. Don’t wait for the review period to find out how your employees feel about their current tasks or goals. Is there something that they’re particularly concerned about that you could help with? Find out from them and work towards a solution. Check-in on your employees from time to time, but avoid micromanaging or quizzing the team about what they are doing. Nobody is intentionally shirking work. Encourage your employees to communicate with each other, and you, so they can reach the goals they have aimed for. Be Transparent Performance management processes don’t exist in a vacuum—they are tied to strategic goals and have set deliverables that need to be executed and achieved. The only way this is going to work is if everyone in the company—employers, managers, supervisors, and employees—are aligned. For this alignment to take place and succeed, you have to make the process as transparent as possible. Though it is tempting to have every aspect of the performance management system under your thumb, this is one area where secrecy doesn’t work. Your employees need to know that such a system exists and they need to be taught how it works. Set up training sessions to explain to your employees how performances will be reviewed—goals, improvement quotients, sales quotas—so they know what they need to work towards. By being transparent, you spare your employees the trouble of floundering around, hoping they are doing a good job, only for them to find out at the review that they haven’t met expectations. Encourage a Learning Culture Employee development is a key factor in improving company culture and achieving your goals. Your employees shouldn’t feel stagnant—they should be learning continuously, either on the job or outside the office. Set up sessions where employees from different departments, and from within the department, choose a new subject to learn. Ask employees to mentor each other, and offer up your services as a mentor as well. As an employer, you will have overseen the running of your entire business, which gives you a unique perspective, and management skills, that employees would benefit from. In performance reviews, include a section for measuring the progress in the new skills employees have learned so they have added impetus to learn more. This method will not only help employees communicate with each other, and you, better, but will also improve their abilities, which will eventually benefit your company. Create a Feedback System We have established that communication is a key part of the performance management process, and this is never truer than during performance reviews. Don’t talk at your employee during the review. Share your thoughts with them, both positive and negative, and then give them the chance to say their piece. You may be surprised by what you learn. At the feedback session, employees may state that they want more regular appraisals—every quarter or every six months—as they feel that it motivates them. Others may prefer an annual review only. Employers also need to understand what goals their employees feel comfortable trying to achieve, and which ones are simply beyond their abilities at the moment. Don’t assume that because a goal has been set that there can be no flexibility. Your employees may not be able to handle the pressure, and you need to take that feedback constructively. Understanding what works for your employees, and what doesn’t, will make the management process easier on all parties involved. Enable real-time feedback between managers & employees with our automated feedback & check-ins tool. Try GroSum for free. Learn more. Give Suitable Rewards Not all employees work at the same pace or with the same sales goals in mind. Instead of having one standardized reward system for all employees—regardless of effort and impact—create a system that rewards employees on their merits. If an employee is delivering better than expected results, their rewards should reflect that effort. And the same goes for an employee who isn’t being efficient—and if their inefficiency continues, that is something you need to look into. Monitor the work of your teams so you have a better understanding of who is doing what, and how well. And reward them according to their needs. A monetary reward may seem the most effective kind, but some employees may prefer something else, such as additional vacation days, or more days to work from home. Find out what they are comfortable with and process the requests to the best of your abilities. Key Takeaways The performance management process can be arduous but by following the right steps, you can make a difference in how your team and your company function. Keep open lines of communication to better understand the needs of your employees, and be transparent about your system. Foster a learning culture so your employees can improve, and benefit your company. Encourage feedback whenever you can, but especially at the review stage. Most importantly, reward your employees according to their efforts, and not as a standardized practice. With these top tips, you can begin creating a performance management process that will benefit your employees and your company in the long term. More resources on Performance Management: Performance Management: The Ultimate Guide 29 Best Employee Performance Management Quotes 21 Experts Reveal Their Strategies For Effective Performance Management 6 Performance Management Trends That Will Dominate 2019 About the author Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. She has a wide variety of interests, including marketing, productivity, pop culture, diversity, and management, all of which she enjoys writing about.