Posted on: February 21, 2013 Uncategorized

Performance reviews with your employees are a breeze when everyone’s excelling. But when an employee has become problematic, it’s not just the employee who dreads the review. Employers don’t look forward to them, either.

In fact, many CPA practice owners avoid conducting performance reviews, because they feel uneasy addressing an underperforming employee.

That doesn’t have to be you. Here are six tips to transform your performance review process into a positive experience for all:

1. No blindsiding. Make sure your employee knows exactly when to expect his or her performance review. In my firm, I conduct reviews annually, typically on the anniversary of the employee’s hire date. Make a schedule and do everything in your power to stick to it. Give the employee a chance to prepare.

2. Don’t scold; be a coach. Assume an empathetic attitude, and remember this employee is not your misbehaving child. This is an adult who depends on their job for their livelihood. Being aggressive or overly critical will put them on the defensive and derail the whole process.

3. Lead with vision. Start by explaining your vision and goals for the firm. Make sure the employee understand how they play a role in that vision.

4. Balance good and bad. Sure, this employee may be having some challenges, but look for and verbally acknowledge his successes and accomplishments. When discussing the negative, focus on the employee’s work and results, rather than making it personal.

5. End on a positive note. Don’t wrap up the review on a negative point. Once you’ve discussed any challenges, return to positive areas. The goal is to motivate the person to continue improving her performance. Let them know they still have your trust and confidence.

6. Have a game plan. Clearly document any problems and establish action steps with the employee. Make sure they clearly understand what’s expected of them going forward.

You’ll know your performance review was a success when the employee leaves the meeting feeling excited about his or her job. Strive for that outcome from the start.

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