Performance reviews offer management the perfect opportunity to unlock and discover an employee’s full potential. It’s a chance to develop on areas that need work and to congratulate employees in areas that they’ve excelled in.

There’s been some negative sentiment towards performance reviews in the news recently. However, there’s a lot to be said as to why they’re an important part of an employee’s development from a human resources perspective – provided that they’re done right.

Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you’re getting the most out of employee reviews:

Engage in Ongoing Conversation

Performance reviews shouldn’t be seen as simply just rating your employee at a single moment in time. Instead, managers should engage in frequent, ongoing conversation with staff. This way, they can be aware of any issues as they happen and can be sure to praise employees in areas where they might have excelled in, in real time.

Best-selling author, Daniel Pink highlighted in a recent article that if a performance review only happens once a year, it’s not aligned with younger generations of workers who are used to a world with ‘rich, regular and robust feedback.’

Scheduled fortnightly 1:1s are a great way to create continuous conversation. Also, collaboration technology tools like Hipchat and Slack will further ensure regular, two-way communication. These tools provide a safe channel for bouncing ideas off one another within the team, offer a place for early warning about any workplace issues, and give managers the chance to easily offer guidance and feedback on demand.

Keep Track of Highlights

Make sure to keep a record of moments to draw back on when a performance review rolls around. Using an HR software management platform will help you to track and appraise employees for events that have happened over the course of the year.

A recent article in Forbes highlighted research from The Global Workforce Leadership Survey suggesting that only 55% of employees feel as though performance management appraisals are effective. That said, it also found that ‘less than a quarter of businesses worldwide are using advanced technology for insights into their people and effectiveness of their talent programs.’

An HR software program provides the technology to bridge that gap. Otherwise, it can be easy to focus on the last three months only, as they’re fresh in our memories. A good performance review should focus on events over the entire year, which have been captured and tracked.

Tailor Each Review

Keep reviews personalised, with questions tailored to each employee. When conducting performance reviews, it’s important to keep staff informed of the process and set expectations early. Questions should align with individual job descriptions. Make sure not only to reflect on the year that has passed, but to set some parameters for the year ahead too.

The New Yorker recently posted an article about the push against performance reviews. In it, Kevin Murphy, an expert on performance appraisals pointed out that ‘organisations need to make sure that their performance-evaluation process attempts to minimise bias – which often involves collecting more, not less, information and documentation, and having more, not fewer, people weigh in on an employee.’ With more information, tailored to each unique employee, managers can ensure that they’re getting the most out of an performance review.

Measure, Measure

Developing metrics or measurable goals are a great way to consistently measure and motivate employees. Importantly, they help to create the foundation for meaningful, ongoing conversation with your staff.

Metrics can be discussed in a performance review and then monitored on a regular basis. Measurable goals can be determined when understanding the nature of the individual’s role. While some roles can change, this will give you some leading indicators and the beginnings of which to base the conversation.

Although there’s a lot of discussion about whether or not the performance review is dead, it’s time we shift our focus and consider it as an evolving process. They were once perceived as annual, one-way discussion, focused only on the previous few months. Today, a good performance review is a two-sided, ongoing discussion, focused on individual employees and providing real time feedback.