Most organizations provide performance reviews on a regular schedule. Unfortunately, many managers and HR professionals never have specific training on how to make a performance review useful and effective, resulting in reviews that don’t mean anything or have any impact. Here are some common mistakes that are made during the performance review process.

Unclear or Vague Feedback

Whether it’s a lack of preparation time, not communicating effectively, or a fear of offending an employee, a lot of managers use vague language in their performance reviews. Some reviews only contain only numbers and pre-selected descriptions like “satisfactory,” “needs improvement” and “below expectations.” Feedback that is meaningful is specific to what the employee is doing right, doing wrong and how they can improve.

No Follow-Up
Performance reviews are supposed to help employees recognize areas that they excel at and list areas for improvement. However, when managers give annual performance reviews without a timely follow-up, the review is forgotten and loses its momentum to help employees transform and improve. Check in with staff on a regular basis after a performance review to let them know what changes you’ve noticed, where they need to try harder on, and if you can do anything to help.

Giving Out Only Positive and/or Negative Comments
Some managers avoid addressing negative issues with employees because they don’t want to hurt the employee’s feelings or they don’t want their employees to get upset with them. It is the manager’s job to point out what the employee is doing right and help them with areas that they need improvement on. Highlighting only the positive parts of someone’s work performance won’t help them improve.

On the flip side, some focus almost completely on the negative sides of an employee’s performance. This may happen due to personal conflicts between an employee and a manager or because a recent issue is at the top of their mind. Employees need regular acknowledgement for the things they do well, or else they might stop doing them.

No Feedback From the Employee
Manager often spend the time during a performance review talking to an employee without asking for her/his feedback or perspective. Find out what your employee thinks of their performance by asking them to rate themselves. You may find that the employee acknowledges performance issues on their own and are willing to take ownership of fixing them without you even bringing them up. You may also find that the employee contributes to your company in ways you had never recognized.

Lack of Employee-Generated Solutions
In addition to not asking employees to self-evaluate, managers also frequently make the mistake of not asking employees to solve problems on their own. Simply asking, “How do you think you could improve in this area?” makes the employee want to take more ownership of trying to improve. If the communication feels two-sided rather than one-sided, employees are more likely to make changes.