Providing performance reviews can be stressful – regardless of whether the evaluation is positive or negative (but especially so if you fear that your feedback isn’t going to be taken favorably). However, these check-ins are a critical part of being a manager and are a skill that must be mastered in order to provide employees with the guidance that they need to excel in their jobs without being demoralizing or causing harm to the company.
With this in mind, it is imperative that managers pay attention to not just the metrics they are discussing, but the language that they use when discussing them.
Enter Vip Sandhir, CEO of employee engagement software firm HighGround, who has compiled the four key phrases that should never be said during those performance review conversations:
1. Here is what I need from you
While this seems like a motivating statement – and one that takes the ‘blame’ away from the employee – Sandhir warns that this phrase alienates staff by focusing on the manager’s needs and not those of the employee. Instead, you can flip it over to the employee and ask them what aspects of their performance they feel they need to improve and expand upon that idea.
2. Tell me about your challenges
Although we did just tell you to turn it over to the employee, asking them what their challenges are – especially at the outset of the conversation – can get you off on a negative foot and make it seem like you are only focused on the bad. Instead, try prompting them by discussing their progress to date and where they are excelling, before flipping it back to the first prompt of asking where there might be room for improvement.
3. You can do it on your own
Where possible, managers shouldn’t assume that an employee can get a project done on their own and should instead discuss the project more broadly before asking what resources – either from other staff or in the form of tools or other assistance – the employee needs to get the job done.
4. Let’s touch base sometime soon
While this may feel like an organic way to end a conversation about performance – after all, you’re leaving the door open to future discussions, leaving it so open-ended is not ideal. Instead, plan a follow-up – be it a few weeks or even several months down the line – and send a calendar invite so that it is a commitment that you will honor.
Do you think this covers most of the big-ticket no-no’s during the performance review process? Let us know in the comments.