Talent Acquisition

6 Phrases To Say And Avoid In A Performance Review

Performance review - two words that induce anxiety to most employees that have been through it. If you’re familiar with the Schrodinger’s cat experiment, the situation makes your employees feel they did both a good and bad job. 

Your employees feel they have done an excellent job because they think the work is done according to instructions. In another instance, they also believe they’ve managed to execute projects according to deadlines. 

Concurrently, your employees also feel that there are some points while working on a project, they could’ve done better. For example, they could use a different method or handle any conflicts better, thus, feel it’ll impact their performance review.

Until the performance review is completed, they’ll have a much clearer outlook on how they have performed for the year.

So, as a manager for a team of recruiters in a recruitment agency, you need to know what you should say and avoid in their performance reviews. One thing for sure is that sugarcoating your words won’t do any good for both of you.

In fact, performance reviews are crucial to identify, recognize, and reward their accomplishments, point out their strengths and weaknesses, and realign their efforts to meet the organization’s goals.

Additionally, you can gauge the motivation of every recruiter under your management. After which, you can devise a game plan to improve the team’s overall performance and productivity.

In this article, we’ll show you six phrases you should and should not say in a performance review as a team manager in a recruitment agency.

What Is A Performance Review?

A performance review is a formal and in-depth evaluation of an employee by their manager regarding their work performance. The one-on-one meeting’s purpose is to identify the workers’ strengths and weaknesses, offer and receive feedback, as well as to set goals for better results in the coming year.

Additionally, it is crucial to know that the session is not just for you to provide feedback based on how well (or bad) they did their job. It’s also for the employee to better understand what they have done right or wrong. 

After which, you can suggest how they can improve and align their efforts to meet the company’s business goals. Simply put, the evaluation session is for both you and the employee to manage each other’s expectations for the coming year.

Now, how often do you need to do performance reviews? Well, it depends on the organization. Typically it is done annually, while other companies do it more frequently. They either have it monthly, semi-quarterly or quarterly.

Phrases To Use With Your Employee

Now that we’ve covered the definition, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. What should you - as the manager - say to your employees during their performance reviews? 

The main thing to remember is that it’s about recognizing their accomplishments and their overall performance for the year. Also, you must remember that a performance review should be an equal exchange of conversations between you. It’s not just you telling them how and what they have done and called it a day.

In general, it’s a safe space for you and your employee to be truthful, clear up any issues, and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

With that in mind, using the correct phrases can benefit both parties as you identify which area the employee has improved and need to work on. Meanwhile, the employee can use the opportunity to express their satisfaction and give their suggestions on how to improve.

Here are six things you should say during a performance review

1. “Congratulations on achieving A, B, and C last year.”

It’s good to start the conversation with something positive. So, acknowledge their accomplishments first. As a good manager, you should’ve come prepared before stepping inside the meeting room. Compile reports such as attendance records, summaries of discussions, and client feedback. Basically, anything that indicates the expectation you’ve set of your employees the year before.

During the discourse, you can include descriptive action verbs and - wherever applicable - specific facts such as tangible results, as mentioned by Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of "Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results."

2. “What do you like best about working on any past projects?”

While you’re still on the topic of their achievements, ask this follow-up question. Because, most of the time, your employee might acquire new skills or learn something new after being involved with different projects.

Give this chance for your employees to express their positive takes on handling those projects. Empower them to share their opinion; from here, you can give suggestions on improving their skills. You even can suggest to HR what sort of training they can attend.

3. “What were your concerns about completing your daily tasks and projects?”

When your employees were completing their tasks, they would have encountered some concerns that they rather kept to themselves. So, this is the time for you to ask them the question and listen. Because you never know exactly why they decided to keep quiet about them. Take some notes of what kind of issues they faced prior to their performance review.

In fact, after both of you have identified the issues, only then can you work towards finding a solution before they get out of hand.

4. “I noticed that you’re having issues with task A while working on project Y. Here are my suggestions.”

If your employee cannot think of any issues that they face, this is the time for you to tell them. Be honest with them and point out exactly where in time you see those issues. Remember, use real situations.

While you’re communicating with them, find the balance between being too strict and laid-back. You want them to know that what you’re saying is in their best interest. Furthermore, you want to tell them straight, no beating around the bush.

To illustrate, let’s say your employee is having an issue with communicating with other colleagues. You can say that you notice the way they talk to other employees can be better. Then you give them examples of how to deal with certain situations. Alternatively, you can provide them with a link to online learning to improve their communication skills.

5. “What are your goals after this performance review?”

After spending some time conversing with your employees, they might think of setting new goals or you could even draw up new goals for them before the meeting. But, since the appraisal is about their performance, ask your employees first if they have new goals after hearing your feedback.

Assuming that their answers align with your thoughts, tell them you’re available to help them suggest online courses they can take. Conversely, you can recommend them to the HR department for any training provided by the company.

6. “How do you feel about working here in general?”

At the end of the day, you need to remember that an employee is a human being with feelings just like you. It’s not only about work, even though you might talk about achieving great results. You need to be mindful not to neglect their emotional well-being while they’re an integral part of your organization. 

In fact, there’s research that says expressing emotions can be beneficial in the workplace. When they talk and work through their emotions, your employees can come up with good and better ideas and are more engaging in discussions.

So, before you end the performance review, ask them this question to know if they’re happy or not working at the organization. If they’re feeling stressed because of the workload, ask them what they need in order to have a better work-life balance. 

Phrases To Avoid With Your Employee

Have you got everything down on what to say to your employees? Good. Now, let’s talk about what you should not say during the performance evaluation. Because if you say the wrong thing in a performance appraisal, it can be disastrous for you, the employee, and possibly the company.

When your messages are not conveyed clearly to your employees, for the coming year, you expect to see them underperforming with less-than-average results, low morale, or worse, them quitting their job.

Here are six things you should NOT say during a performance review:

1. “You’re doing good. Good job!”

Yes, it’s a good thing for them to hear. But, you’ve got to be specific as in - how did the employee do a good job? 

When acknowledging that your employee has done a good job, tell them why—highlight which part of the tasks leads to the employee meeting your expectations. 

Use reports that you’ve gathered from the HR department to justify your reasons and double-check what your employee is telling you during the session.

2. “I have nothing to say.”

In contrast to the previous point, you should never say that you don’t have anything to say. Your employee is already feeling nervous about getting their performance evaluated by you, hoping to discuss their achievements and wanting to solve any issues that they have. But hearing those words might leave them confused and feel demotivated. They’re not sure whether they did a good job or at least met your expectations. 

Plus, there’s no excuse for you not to say anything because you have all the tools (which we’ll discuss later) available to get your points across.  So, don’t disappoint them by just filling in the evaluation form and consider it done.

3. “You’ve done better than so-and-so.”

One thing at work that perhaps most of us don’t like is being compared with another colleague. For example, let’s say you’re telling Bob that Susan’s been doing great with a project, such as the highest candidates required and hired, as compared to his achievements. This will create a situation where he would be jealous of her and might affect their working together in the future.

That said, always remember that an employee’s performance review is only about that particular employee. It’s not a place to compare them with other team members. Both of you need to discuss their accomplishments and what you can do to help them do better in the future.

4. “Let’s get this done quickly. I have got another meeting in 10 minutes.”

Performance review is not something that you do last minute. The HR department has set dates for hiring managers to complete the evaluation and send the appraisal reports to the department before the set deadlines. 

So, you should set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour from your schedule for each employee to do the review because there’s nothing much you can discuss with a short one-on-one discussion. It’ll be a session of you telling the employee what they’ve done, and that’s it. There’s no discussion to identify their strengths and weaknesses. 

Having that in mind, confirm the deadline to send your workers’ appraisal report deadlines, block some time to have a meaningful discussion with them on your calendar, and prepare what you need to say.

5. “Want to get a promotion and bonuses? Then, work towards hitting the target.” 

As you are already aware by now, the performance review session should be a safe space for the employees to discuss their work and ask for your help. But, when you ask them a question with empty promises or instill fear nuances, it might demotivate your employee in the middle of the session.

Additionally, let’s say the employee takes your words as it is and achieves the target. But, you can’t keep your promise during the appraisal session. The employee approaches the HR department complaining about you not giving what was promised. 

So, unless you’re some all-seeing person with the ability to predict the future, then you shouldn’t be making promises you can’t keep. Don’t set the bar too high because then you might find yourself in a sticky situation.

 On that note, be mindful not to instill fear in your employees with the hope that it’ll automatically improve performance overnight. Productivity is best displayed when an employee feels like you understand them and their needs.

6. “I’m not happy with the way you handle past projects.”

So, you’re not happy with how your employee handled certain projects prior to the performance review. And, perhaps they know that you might not be happy about it. Hence, there’s no need to be too emotional about it. As the manager, you need to focus on what’s being discussed with your staff, not how you feel about it.

How should you go about it? Tell them directly that certain actions have their consequences. To illustrate, let’s use Bob again. He has issues communicating with his colleagues, like shouting and being condescending. You know the situation, highlighting his need to improve his communication skills.

Performance Reviews In A Recruitment Agency Setting

For a recruitment agency, recruiters are drowned with metrics, from the number of candidates recruited to those successfully hired as well as the number of clients under them. That is a handful of information that you need to collect and comprehend before stepping into the meeting room.

Not only that, but you also need to ensure that the metrics collected are correct to develop strategies accordingly. These new and custom plans should ultimately be about achieving the organization’s business goals.

Therefore, in order for you to have fair and smooth performance evaluations of each recruiter within the agency, you need to have accurate data for each metric.

Here’s how you can prepare for a performance evaluation by utilizing reports generated from a recruitment tool like Manatal’s ATS built-in CRM.

  • Candidate report: Candidates are recruited from various channels, one of which is from your recruiters. You can use this report to see the number of job seekers successfully created in the system. You can also track and sort the number of candidates according to different channels and granularity.
  • Hiring performance report: A recruiter’s performance is also based on the number of candidates hired. Manatal can generate this report with accurate data so that you would know precisely how each of your recruiters has performed for the year.
  • Leaderboard report: In order to have a fruitful performance review, you need an overview of what’s happening inside the recruitment pipeline. This particular report can provide you with that. 
  • Sales report: At the end of the day, a recruitment agency is also about the sales number - is it going up or down? Hence, with this report, you have some insight into what’s happening and find solutions to improve the team member's performance. 

READ MORE: 4 Types of Reports You Need In Your Applicant Tracking Syste m

Wrapping Things Up

In a nutshell, a performance review is a formal, documented, two-way conversation between you as the manager and your team of recruiters. You would use this opportunity to highlight their accomplishments and realign their efforts to meet the agency’s business goals.

That being said, it can be quite an intimidating time for some of them. So, you need to know what to say to them and which phrases you should avoid using.

Additionally, a performance review in a recruitment agency setting requires you to look at different recruitment metrics in order to evaluate each recruiter’s performance.

Hence, you need direct reports with accurate information to have a fair and smooth performance evaluation. Only then can you identify which recruiters perform well and which of them need assistance.

That said, we encourage you to try Manatal’s ATS 14-day free trial and see how you can better manage your team of recruiters better. 

Manatal is an ATS that has provided many organizations and recruitment agencies with their hiring needs. Start your 14-day free trial today and see what else you can do with our ATS. Whatever your budget is, our packages fit just right for you.

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