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What Do You Do with an Employee Having a Bad Annual Review?

Ah yes. The end of the year. So festive. For most of us a time for celebration. A time to reflect and count our blessings. It's also a time for many employers to start thinking about conducting their annual reviews. In some cases, the mood may not be so festive.

It goes without saying that annual reviews are a big deal. They are important for every team member involved in the company and will help unify the team in achieving their goals. Good reviews and bad reviews happen all the time, and it’s important to have a plan when you will be meeting with an employee who has a poor review. Remember, an employee with a poor annual review could be your next shining star with a little bit of mentoring and action steps from you!

What To Do in a "Bad" Annual Review

  • Tell them how to improve. Sounds quite simple, right? If you have a rubric, or standards to measure performance, you should be able to give them simple directions for how to improve their performance. You don’t want to turn into a micromanager, but you absolutely do want to give specific examples in your directions to help them improve. After all, if you can help them succeed at the job, the entire company benefits.

  • Create an achievable action plan. To take your suggestions for improvement to the next level, you and your employee should create a realistic action plan. Set them up for success with breaking their larger goals into smaller steps. This will help them build confidence along the way, while still meeting the goals and tasks necessary for their job.

  • Pair them with star employees. Often times, the best resources for your employees who are struggling are their colleagues. Consider the skills you want your employee to improve upon, and find an employee who could help teach them. Maybe they do a small training session, maybe they shadow them for a project or task. This is a great way to not only help your employee but also help your star employee with leadership and mentoring opportunities.

  • Have another review. When an employee has a negative annual review, obviously don’t wait a whole year before meeting again. Often times, an additional review every six months is practiced, but you or their more immediate supervisor should check in with them often and perhaps do a smaller review every quarter to monitor progress and fine tune goals.

Do More

An employee with the right attitude should be eager to improve their performance if a "bad" review is conducted properly. Your role is to determine what is preventing this person from being successful and then providing them with the tools they can use to improve. If, after a predetermined time the abilities or attitude does not change then you have to decide if they would be better suited in a different position in the company or if you need to cut your losses and let them go. If you decide to give them more time then you have an obligation to your business and to your employee to help each succeed. One does not happen without the other.

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