Review Implementation II: Running a Seamless Review

Welcome to LarkApp's How to Run a Great Performance Review series! In this post 5 (of 6), we’ll run through how to facilitate a smooth review cycle, with tips on managing unforeseen circumstances and maximizing effectiveness.

The prep work is over — now it’s just a matter of making sure that the cycle runs seamlessly. Here are some important things to do while your review is up-and-running:

(1) Be flexible and anticipate delays

The key to good project management is preparing for things to not go according to schedule. People will be busy with work during the review process, and it’s probable that not everything will go as planned, especially if this is your company’s first performance review.

We recommend that you set publicly communicated submission deadlines to share with employees and managers — but expect that people will be completing review tasks past these deadlines. Building in a buffer of 2–4 days after communicated deadlines is a way to keep the process moving on time. This makes it so any processes dependent on the completion of a review phase (for example, performance calibration meetings) aren’t contingent on rigid due dates that not everyone will probably meet. The buffer time allows people who have lagged to finish everything up.

Still, when things don’t go perfectly, it’s important to keep the overall goal in mind. Maybe not all peer reviewers will finish their assessments — but that’s ok as long as your ultimate goal is achieved. If your employees are still driving their learning & development, or if your company is making progress to improve its feedback culture, then don’t sweat the small stuff — the big picture is what’s important.

Also note that there are a host of unexpected things that could come up. Here are a few that we’ve seen, alongside our best-practice suggestions for how to deal with them:

Q: An employee just switched managers, who should run their performance review?
A: The old manager should manage the performance review as the new manager ramps up.
Q: An employee is already underperforming going into the review. Is there anything extra that the manager should be doing?
A: Run the assessments, but pause the actual review meeting until the employee comes back.
Q: An employee is already underperforming going into the review. Is there anything extra that the manager should be doing?
A: Provide extra coaching to the manager on delivering feedback transparently and sensitively. Additionally, ensure that expectations are set clearly for high performance, and outline a concrete path to get there.
Q: An employee’s manager takes an unexpected leave-of-absence, or leaves the company, in the middle of a cycle. How should you handle the employee’s review?
A: Get their manager’s manager to take over, or a cross functional manager that has visibility into the employee’s performance.

(2) Check in with managers to see how their review meetings are going

You want to be a resource for your managers — holding performance review conversations can be awkward or frustrating, and you want to make sure that they’re being as effective as possible. But you also want to ensure that you’re not burdening them with other review-related overhead, as they already have quite a bit on their plate. A compromise solution is to do quick and informal check-ins with several trusted managers and get their take on how things are going.

(3) Track progress

Getting up-to-date on progress (how many assessments each person has completed, whether managers have submitted all their reviews, and so on) will allow you to run a more seamless process. This could be done manually in Excel, or tracked automatically if you’re using a reviews software. Keep tabs on everyone’s progress, and send a friendly reminder if needed.

Our free reviews software automatically tracks employee progress, so you don’t have to — sign up here.

We hope that this blog post gave you some thoughts on how to run a seamless review! Next up: Review Implementation III: Setting up for Success Post-Review.

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