These tips for a productive review session will help you keep your employees invested in their role

One of the secrets to keeping your employees engaged and productive is providing them with regular feedback. Believe it or not, employees want to know how they’re doing on the job — to be affirmed in their strengths and coached through some areas of improvement. Hopefully, employee feedback is something you provide regularly, casually, throughout the year. But it is also prudent to have a formal process in place for employee reviews.

If you do not plan and execute your reviews properly, though, they can feel less than productive, both for you and for the employee. The question is: how do you get maximum value out of your employee review process?

1. Make it about more than money
Often, employers will hold annual reviews where they go over an employee’s recent performance, but also discuss possible pay increases and bonuses. This is a mistake, however, because it means the employee is likely only going to be listening for dollar amounts and not necessarily engaging with the more substantive aspects of the performance review.

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Get more engagement here by making the salary discussion and the performance review two separate events, held on two separate days at different points in the year.

2. Have an honest conversation
Ultimately, if you’re not honest in the appraisal you give — if you pull your punches in order to avoid confrontation — you’re essentially just wasting everyone’s time. Tact and diplomacy are critical, but so is candor.

With that said, you don’t necessarily want to be lecturing your employees. Make it conversational. Allow your employees to respond to potential criticisms, and keep your mind open to their side of things.

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More than anything else, you want to avoid making the performance review about numbers or grades. Keep it a conversation about real issues, such as ways to build on strengths and correct weaknesses. Simply telling the employee she has a B in one area and a D in another area is not a constructive way to facilitate conversation and problem-solving.

3. Listen to the employee
Make sure you’re not doing all the talking in the review. In fact, it is often effective to ask the employee to review his or her own performance, and to provide you with a viewpoint you might not have considered.

You can also turn the tables by asking the employee for any potential feedback on your management style and on the direction of the company as a whole. The important thing here — and sometimes the difficult one — is to be open to feedback. That doesn’t mean you have to implement the suggestions your employee offers, of course, but you do need to hear them out without growing defensive.

Related: Are You Prepared to Fire an Employee?

4. Don’t arrive unprepared
Above all else, though, preparation is key. Don’t show up to the review without some notes and a good idea of what you hope to accomplish during the review. Show your employees that you are invested in the review process and, by extension, invested in them.

About the Author
Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin, Ireland. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at

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