Performance reviews are a great opportunity to compliment an employee for their achievements and sensitively correct errors. But what do you do when an employee does not agree with your review? Is there a way you can prepare to deal with these situations effectively?
How to Discuss Performance Reviews the Right Way
Begin by hearing out an employee to discovr the reason for their disappointment. You will need to figure out if the issue is a matter of fact (you have put done the customer service satisfaction rating of 84, but an employee reports his rating to be 87), or a matter of judgement (according to you, employee’s service satisfaction is satisfactory, but the employee feels like they’ve been excellent).
Issues which involve facts are easier to handle. You bring up your data and check the facts, making corrections if needed. Matters of judgment may require additional evidence from an employee. Don’t feel uncomfortable asking. If provided evidence is convincing enough to get you to change your mind, then revise your initial judgment and review given performance rating.
In the majority of the cases, you will have a fairly decent idea of particular review areas where misunderstandings are likely to take place. Therefore, before you begin the discussion, take the time to go over written review again and specifically look for these potential disagreement areas. Picture yourself in the situation, where your employee questions this particular area and play through the scenario of you answering to that. Even if you choose to settle for a general response during this exercise, this will definitely reduce the chances of being caught off guard.
When discussing performance reviews with the employee, begin with higher ratings and gradually move in the direction of the lowest. Keep in mind that written appraisals are good to have, but you have to be prepared to give additional example aside from the formal ones you’ve written. Examples can include informal discussions you’ve had throughout the year.
Granted, if you have not been holding performance discussions throughout the year, then there is a higher likelihood of misunderstanding surfacing during the annual review. This should yet be another reason for scheduling informal performance discussion meetings over the course of the appraisal period.
Listen, Hear, and Handle
Once any disagreements surface, immediately switch to the listening mode. Hear out the employee and let them speak on their side of the story, lay out facts and feelings about what they have a problem with. When listening, insert phrases such as “Let me know more…” or, “Is there anything else you can tell me about that…?” to encourage an employee to continue speaking on the topic until they’ve said all they wanted to say. The chances are that when allowed to speak, they will end up coming to the same conclusion as you did.
Understanding your objectives is crucial to having a fruitful performance review discussion. What some managers fail to remember is the fact that reaching an agreement is never your main objective in a performance review discussion. What you are looking to achieve is understanding. If you have the employee agree with you — you’ve reached your goal. However, in situations when you are trying to explain how an employee performance was underwhelming and only played a mediocre role in reaching a common goal, then you are less likely to have the employee agree to that, and that’s alright. Here, you want the employee to understand why you have evaluated their performance in such a way, despite their own opinion.
Lastly, if you have several discussions planned for the day, don’t start with the lowest where disagreements are more likely to happen. Instead, begin with your best performer and move toward potentially more time-consuming reviews. Moving from easy to difficult in such a manner, you will naturally become more comfortable answering questions and handling misunderstanding by the time you get to discussions where disagreements are likely to happen.