How well are your staff performing? Do they love their job? Performance reviews, an open two-way conversation held once or twice a year, are a great way to find out. While you’re not legally bound to do appraisals, they’re a great tool to keep your business running smoothly. Open communication lines early Whether you have five or 50 staff, communication is key when it comes to performance reviews. Let your staff know early (ideally during induction) what goals and objectives they need to meet and give them a chance to voice their ideas. By reviewing and updating these at each review, it will be easier to explain why they’ve received a less-than-perfect appraisal if their performance wanes. Address challenges ASAP If an employee is underperforming, there are a range of things you can do to help. Just make sure you do it sooner rather than later. Try observing them and gently offering constructive advice to help them do their job better. You could offer extra training to improve their skills if necessary. Consider any challenges they’re facing outside of work – flexible working conditions may be a positive solution for both of you. Preparation is key Give your employee at least a couple of weeks’ notice so you both have time to prepare for the appraisal. Look at your employee’s job description, notes from previous reviews and performance indicators in advance. Send your staff member a list of questions to review ahead of time, in relation to areas such as job satisfaction, responsibilities, and work/life balance. If your employee is a star-player, get feedback from other employees or key customers to support that view. Keep it formal but friendly A performance appraisal isn’t Dragons’ Den or a casual chat over coffee, it’s somewhere in between. It’s a chance for both of you to honestly discuss the role, whether goals have been met, what’s good or bad about the job, and if their pay will increase and why or why not. Write everything down Take notes at each review and share a written summary with your employee afterwards to ensure you agree it’s a true reflection of what was discussed. This is key if a staff member isn’t performing because if you have to let them go, you’ll have proof of warnings and the steps you took to try to help them improve their work. Book in regular catch-ups Keep employees engaged and avoid potential issues by setting up informal chats once or twice a month. You don’t have to wait for the full performance review to give staff feedback or get feedback from them.