A Closer Look at Reviews

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Product and service reviews are vitally important to most businesses. Customers give feedback, letting the business know how they did, offering insight, suggestions and praise or criticism.

Read enough reviews and you will quickly realize that some are much more valuable than others. Many are just confirmation the product was received, while some don’t even focus on the product itself, but the method of delivery and the purchaser’s resulting discontent.

Recently, I was thinking about the similarities between product reviews and those done for employee performance.

The best product reviews are those that go into some depth about what made the buyer seek out the item (their expectations) and their hands on experience (performance) once they had time to actually engage with it. Effective performance reviews are ones that accurately portray what expectations were established and then how the employee’s actual work met those.

Just as worthless product reviews may confuse or put other buyers off, ineffective performance reviews leave the recipient with more questions than answers and may even end up impacting job satisfaction.

If, by any chance, you work somewhere there aren’t a lot of guidelines on how reviews should be done, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. The process is meant to look at accomplishments of the previous review period and set the employee up for success as they move forward. Look for any and all opportunities to let them know where they contributed and what positive value they brought to the team.
  2. If you haven’t been clear about what their success looks like, you will likely see the year end results very differently than the employee does. This can lead to hard feelings and a great deal of confusion. If this happens, acknowledge your part in the frustration and get things reset, quickly. You can usually salvage the situation, but not if you double down in more ineffective communication.
  3. There should never be any surprises in an evaluation. Monitor performance as an ongoing part of your interactions to make sure that this doesn’t happen. Keeping everyone’s eyes on the metrics and whether or not they are meeting expectations allows for early course corrections and ultimately, more successful outcomes.
  4. It’s often helpful to have someone else read the review before you make it official. A colleague, member of HR or even your boss can help by providing feedback on word choice, clarity and flow. You want the document to be as well done as possible and having a second set of eyes helps accomplish that.

Done well, reviews of any kind provide insight that leaves the reader with better understanding and helps them make informed decisions. If you are going to take the time to write them, do them well.

Everyone will benefit.