Having recently carried out "formal" reviews with each of my team I know, for me, it is very valuable. Employee reviews are new to me.  I never had a review in all the years I was an employee so when it was suggested I carry out regular reviews with each of my employees I had no idea where to start.  So I have based my employee reviews on what I think I would have liked had I had one!

Team reviewsAs my team will tell you, finding time to have a formal review, by which I mean planned in advance and prepared for, is always difficult.  I plan to have them every six months but when workload is heavy and deadlines are looming they tend to be postponed but eventually we manage it.

We are a small team who interact on a daily basis so my argument initially was why do we need a formal review as we are always talking and catching up.   My door is almost always open so everyone knows they can talk to me when they need to whether it is about a customer or for some help with the task in hand.  

So whilst daily interaction is great to keep on top of work and occasional personal issues, I realised that a formal review is planned time and is an opportunity to discuss things more in depth.  Our reviews last for about an hour and I will have already spent perhaps an hour preparing for each.  I give my team a few questions in advance to help them think through what they would like to talk about.  The questions ask them to think about their achievements and what they have found difficult, their training needs or training desires.  

My preparation for the reviews focuses mainly on their achievements since the last review.  This is the most valuable part of the preparation for me as I look back over what we have achieved as a business over that period and then break that down into how each member of the team has contributed to those achievements. Every team member will have achieved several things and it is a reminder to me just how the business has changed over such a short period of time.

No-one comes up with as many achievements for themselves as I do for them and they are surprised when I read out my list and when we talk these achievements through we can then usually think of some more.

So a review is a valuable opportunity to remind my team of what they are achieving and how appreciative I am of this. Without a great team who are committed to what they do we would not have the business that we have. The review is also an opportunity to just talk things through and it can yield some surprises and some interesting discussions which help me to plan - our day to day interactions would not necessarily evoke these discussions.  There are not usually any negative issues to discuss because these will have been dealt with at the time - a few months after the event is pointless - but it is a good time to give encouragement and discuss ways of developing different strategies if things haven't been working too well.

A formal review would not be complete without setting some objectives.  This is not something that comes easily to me but I have found that planning objectives and discussing and agreeing them helps to set out what I would like each person to achieve over the coming months.  It helps them to know what I expect them to contribute to the business growth and to their own personal development.  

Business Growth & DevelopmentReviews are still relatively new to me and I am developing them further each time but, although I took a little persuasion in the beginning, I now know that they are a valuable part of building and developing my team and our business.

How valuable are reviews to your business development growth and to the development of your employees?