6 Tips for Manager Engagement During the Performance Review Process

Posted by Lauren • September 1, 2021 (Last modified October 11, 2022) • 9 min read

For many companies, the common performance review process has one major pain point: keeping your managers engaged. Engaged managers complete on-time, well thought-out and constructive reviews for their employees which in turn helps keep employees connected and on a path of success within your company.

When this engagement is lacking, employees often feel as if their managers are indifferent about their role within the team until it comes time for the performance review process. When employees aren’t receiving regular feedback, they often become stagnant which causes the growth of your company to suffer. 

If engagement is vital to company and employee growth, how can you ensure your managers are involved in the process? Find 6 tips below!

Looking to build your best team? Get a live demo of Trakstar’s fully integrated platform, including Perform – making generic and time-consuming performance reviews a thing of the past!

6 Tips for Manager Engagement During the Performance Review Process

One of the greatest problems in the workforce is a lack of engagement. Employees often find themselves at work and totally uninterested in what they do.  A full 71% of employees are not fully engaged, and a shocking 26% are actively disengaged. Disengagement will come back to bite you when your employees fail to be productive and have no motivation for their work. It ends up reflecting on the value they add to the company. And the reason employees are disengaged can often be traced back to your management. 80% of disengaged employees are not satisfied with their current manager.

Of course, great management goes a long way toward encouraging and increasing employee engagement. Managers who know how to motivate their employees and spur them on toward greater engagement and productivity are key assets to your company. In fact, talented managers can improve your company’s profitability by 48%.

Sound familiar? That’s because motivation, feedback, and encouragement are all parts of a great performance culture. Try to weave each one of these ideas into any management training and ask your management team if they are struggling with any of them. If so, take the time to dive deeper into your performance management process to see where you can augment in favor of feedback, encouragement, and motivation.

Managers should focus on consistent feedback in particular

By using effective performance management systems, managers can give constructive and specific feedback. Feedback is shown to be a major factor in employee engagement, so much so that 98% of employees will fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback.

Sharlyn Lauby writes, “Managers should be giving feedback to all employees on a regular basis. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Note Lauby doesn’t say it’s simple, just that it is right. Giving feedback regularly does two things. First, as we’ve discussed, it creates higher levels of engagement within your workforce. But second, it allows your managers to regularly practice giving constructive and specific feedback. Hopefully, this regular practice will make perfect and performance feedback, even the critical kind, won’t be so feared, by managers or employees.

Ultimately, no matter how incredible your performance management system is, it will fall through without the right managers implementing the system. The committed leader on the other end of performance management is what drives the entire process, the one who truly inspires your employees to work hard and strive for improvement. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. A great manager will focus on providing effective and constructive feedback regularly.

Tweet this: 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.

Managers can make performance management succeed

Managers bear a lot of responsibility when it comes to performance management. For it to be truly effective, managers should take the initiative to give employees the feedback they need, give accurate and consistent performance reviews, and push their employees towards continued growth and development. But the right leader will take on this responsibility with determination and positivity, recognizing how important to the employees, company and team it is!

If you feel your managers aren’t up to the task, discuss how you can help. Many managers are hesitant to ask for further training on a platform they don’t understand or want to admit they aren’t quite ready to give impactful performance feedback. Try hosting a lunch and learn around building your performance culture and see how quickly your managers start creating a positive performance management movement!

1. Create short, purposeful content

Your form content – from competencies to coaching tips and rating scales – is all meant to spark conversation. Make sure this content is relevant to your company and the roles your team is evaluating. 

When deciding the best questions to ask, start with a draft from your Human Resources team or leadership. Then, ask your managers to review and give suggestions. Including your managers creates collaboration which increases engagement and provides accurate feedback for relevant questions to ask. 

Stay mindful of the length of your forms. When a form is too long, it appears daunting which may cause your managers to put off completing the task. Additionally, double check that none of the questions or items to fill out are repetitive. 

A short and efficient form, tailored to your company’s culture and the employee’s role, will be engaging for both the manager and employee to complete. Are you unsure if the form is too long? Ask someone else on your HR team (who didn’t write it) to complete the form for a quick check on length and clarity

2. Take year-round notes

A common problem during the performance review process is recency bias. People tend to remember the events or tasks that happened most recently, which can make it difficult to give a comprehensive review for the full review period being evaluated.

To combat this, encourage both managers and employees to take notes throughout the year. This will enable them to accurately recall events that may not be top of mind and creates a more specific performance review. Notes give context to performance while supporting competency ratings and creating discussion points for conversations between managers and employees.

It’s also important to take notes on both opportunities and successes. Sometimes it becomes easy to take notes on one or the other – but for a truly balanced review, remember to take notes on both. 

You can also encourage year-round communication with your employees through the use of engagement surveys. These assist companies and managers in being proactive about employee satisfaction before issues overflow into performance reviews.

3. Encourage meaningful time for conversation

To encourage the value of employee communication and feedback, leadership should stress the importance of the review process and reinforce it through the action of giving the managers and employees the time and space to complete them. 

Encourage your managers (and employees, if you opt for self-reviews) to block time in their schedule to complete their reviews. This may mean providing a quiet space and computer access, if they don’t regularly have these conveniences. Also, employees should be given this dedicated time while on the clock, instead of being expected to complete their reviews outside of working hours. 

During the review period, there should also be a process in place for managers and employees to review the feedback together and establish goals for the future. This is a great time to make sure expectations and reality are aligned and the employee knows the direction for their future growth. Once the areas of growth have been decided, managers and employees should work together to write and set attainable goals to keep everyone on target until the next review session.

4. Train managers for difficult conversations during performance reviews

Sometimes managers shy away from completing performance reviews because they know it will bring up a performance issue in one of their employees – but avoiding issues doesn’t resolve them.

It’s best to train your managers to tackle these concerns before they are noted in the performance review itself, as a review should never be the first time an employee learns there is a mismatch between performance and expectations. When you suspect performance issues, it’s best to outline and begin a performance improvement plan (PIP) immediately to resolve the issue(s) and revise or reiterate expectations.

5. Consider dispersing reviews throughout the year

Typically companies complete performance reviews once (or multiple times) a year during a review period or they complete them based on the employee’s work anniversary/hire date.

If completing all performance reviews at the same time each year is putting an undue burden on your managers and productivity, consider using an anniversary date review instead. This allows the reviews to be spread throughout the year and may reduce a “collective anxiety” that often occurs when everyone is going through a performance review at the same time. It also allows your managers to have more meaningful and intentional conversations since time isn’t limited by trying to schedule conversations with everyone in the same timeframe.

6. Make reviews a collaborative exercise

Lastly, encourage a collaborative approach – by adding additional input to the review, you will receive more well-rounded and accurate feedback about the employee’s performance.

To do this, consider asking the employee to complete a self-review, which will be evaluated along with their manager’s review. This allows you to understand how the employee ranks themself, guards the conversations from being one-sided, and may open up additional feedback regarding expectations. 

Additionally, you can solicit reviews from other people who have worked with the employee, both inside and outside the organization. Third-party feedback about the employee can provide a valuable lens to expand the conversation. 

Improve your talent development with Trakstar Perform

Regardless of how many times your team has completed the review process, there will always be room for improvement. Poll your managers about what is working and what isn’t – and make any updates to your forms and procedures before the next review cycle. Your performance review process should be consistently evolving into a more efficient, engaging and valuable tool for talent development. 

Looking to build your best team and have a smoother performance review process? Get a live demo of Trakstar’s fully integrated platform, including Perform – making generic and time-consuming performance reviews a thing of the past!

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