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How performance reviews can be used for employee development

April 19, 2021
Help employees discover their strengths and career goals with a strategic performance review approach.

I recently wrote about ways to take bias out of performance reviews. In this blog, I want to talk about how you can use performance reviews as an employee development tool.

Baili Bigham, content manager at 15Five, said in a recent blog that performance reviews should focus on your employees’ strengths. It is part of the managers responsibility to help employees recognize their strengths. The reality is that many employees can’t articulate their own strengths.

The good news is that there are tools that can help them do that like Clifton Strengths Finder, Cognadev, Strength Deployment Inventory, VIA 24 Character Strength Survey and others. In addition, managers can help employees leverage strengths by asking some key questions.

Here are questions Bigham suggested you ask employees:

  • What do you believe your top strengths are and how do those strengths shine through in your current role?
  • Since the last performance review, what achievements are you most proud of and why?
  • Which parts of your role bring you the most energy? Which parts drain you?
  • Which strengths would you like to focus on and hone over the next few months?

Getting answers to these questions can help managers better understand how employees see themselves. Managers can also use answers to get employees additional training that might help with the parts of their job they find draining. Often, tasks that we are not good at are the ones that are most draining. The answers can also managers set goals for the next performance review.

Bigham also suggested using the performance review to explore the employee’s career goals by asking questions such as:

  • What rare and valuable skills do you want to develop?
  • What are your short- and long-term career goals?
  • What’s your dream job title and what responsibilities would fall into that job description?
  • What’s one thing you could focus on over the next few months that would help you get closer to achieving your dream role at the company?

Having answers to these questions can help the manager plot a career path for an employee and identify the skills and knowledge gaps that need to be bridged in order for that employee to move up the ranks of the organization.

Studies have shown that employees understand how they can progress within a company, they are more likely to stay than if they are unsure what their future could be.

When done correctly, performance reviews are a good way for managers to learn more about how employees see themselves and the contributions they make to the organization as well as a way to help guide employees down a career path that keeps them at the company.

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