June performance review madness

I’ve been through performance reviews in small, medium and large businesses and have found some key factors to ensure it does not end up a token task. MICHAEL PHILLIPS

Michael Phillips

By Michael Phillips

For many businesses, June is the toughest month. It’s the end of financial year and the time when all the “cleaning” needs to be done to set the organisation up for the following year while getting the chance to review how the past year has faired. 

A big part of this cleaning process is the HR side of the business and employee reviews. The employee appraisal process gives the employee some “closure” on how they have performed, provides upwards feedback to managers and lays the foundations for the employee’s career going forward.

While I do believe that the performance appraisal process has become a chore rather than a positive in a lot of organisations, it is important to focus on the important aspects to ensure the business and the people benefit.

I’ve been through performance reviews in small, medium and large businesses and have found some key factors to ensure it does not end up a token task.

  • Give the staff a chance to mentally prepare and bring some points of discussion to the meeting. But limit the amount of paperwork – it should be enjoyable not just another bit of red tape.
  • Keep it brief but effective. Don’t make it so short that the staff member feels you don’t care, but also get to the point, be open and honest.
  • There should be a few key areas that a staff member and manager must consider in order to conduct the review:
    • What were the positives from the previous year.
    • What were the areas for improvement.
    • What are the goals for the future.
  • Try to keep everything in threes; three positives, three improvement areas, and three key goals to achieve.
  • Let the employee talk. This is their opportunity to really speak, don’t begrudge them that.
  • Don’t make any promises you can’t deliver or are unrealistic for yourself or the person being reviewed.
  • Keep it informal as you’ll get the most from a person if they’re comfortable.
  • Both parties must leave with a clear understanding of how to go about achieving the goals for the next year.
  • Finally, keep the salary discussions separate. Focus on listening, learning and improving the person/business, getting caught up in salary discussions will detract from this.

The big thing about performance reviews is that for both sides of the table they can be time consuming, stressful and, at times, useless. This is when the process is done haphazardly, without any care for the staff member and involves pages of self analysis, 360 degree reviews and more HR jargon than a SEEK advertisement.

Keep it simple, keep it relaxed and keep it positive.


Michael Phillips is a 29-year old CPA managing a business full of Gen-Ys. He’s the Commercial Manager of Cremorne Group which wholesales and retail mens and womens apparel, including the Tommy Hilfiger, Blazer and Perri Cutten brands. He offers his experience as a pioneering Gen-Y managing Gen-Ys, covering issues such as how to recruit, retain and get the most out of Gen-Y – the notoriously difficult younger generation of employees aged 15 to 30.



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