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The review and you: 4 tips to improve 3 month reviews

20 June 2013

Although most managers recognise the need for some form of performance management, there is sometimes a question over the necessity of conducting a performance review after an employee's first three months in the job.

For a busy manager, running the business takes priority and sitting down for a feedback session with a new employee can slip down the list as it seems like a time-consuming distraction from the important tasks at hand.

Still, it is important to look at the big picture – for the employee, the three month review is an important opportunity to find out how they are performing and whether they are on track. And for the employer, the review is a valuable opportunity to give and receive feedback, to set targets and build employee engagement.

Here are some tips to make the process easier.

Plan ahead. There can often be the temptation to keep any sort of performance discussion informal, but there are many benefits to implementing a more structured process. As a starting point, think about what you want to achieve. In most instances, open and honest communication is the goal. And remember, it should be a two-way exchange – as well as you giving feedback, it is an opportunity for the team member to let you know how they think they are doing and also to raise any issues or challenges they are facing. Think about what documentation might support this process. You could try using the staff member's position description – which should outline the key responsibilities of the role – to structure your discussion. Ask the employee to reflect on each responsibility or objective before the meeting. Not only will this ensure the conversation is focused, it will help to avoid a rambling discussion and could save valuable time for both you and the employee.

Recognise achievements, clarify expectations, identify issues. Open discussion underpins any successful performance conversation. In this light, you should aim to recognise your employees' achievements, monitor their performance against the key objectives of the role, clarify any expectations that are not being met, and develop strategies to deal with any issues. You might get the employee to comment on each objective and then you might respond. Encourage further discussion – ask them to give feedback on their role and how it fits within the wider organisation.

Set targets. One of the outcomes of any performance discussion should be to identify the destination and chart a route to get there. Involving the employee in this process is an essential part of engaging your team. Get their input on how their individual role can support the wider organisational goals.

Document the discussion. To ensure the rigour of your people management processes, you should document any performance discussions and agreed targets. This needn't be complicated – it could be as simple as the employee writing a short comment about how they have performed against key objectives, and you adding your comment too. Ensure any outcomes or feedback are agreed upon and signed off by both parties.

Performance management can be a challenge for new and experienced managers; iHR Australia offers a range of training programs designed to help those with people management responsibilities including Professional and Courageous Conversations, New and Emerging Managers, Managing Everyday Performance and HR101. Promotional pricing is currently being offered on all scheduled public programs in 2013, book before 28 June 2013 to receive 22% off.

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