The most important part of a performance review

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Setting expectations is one of the most important parts of a performance review, whether it is an ongoing process or conducted once a year, suggests a Gallup review of data from 550 organizations and 2.2 million employees.

Only 50% of employees believe they have a firm understanding of what their work responsibilities are, and many of their managers aren't sure of their duties either, writes Jim Harter, PhD, chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing for Gallup's workplace management practice, in an opinion piece on the Gallup website. "In our worldwide study of great managers, we've learned that clarity of expectations is more than a job description," he says. "Rather, it is a detailed understanding of how each person's role relates to the roles of his or her coworkers and the overall organization—and how expectations change as circumstances change. What's more, clear expectations are central to fair and useful performance management."

Employers see benefits, he says, because workers who understand what is expected of them are more likely to stay and be 5 to 10% more productive.

To be successful in the process, managers should involve the employee in setting challenging goals, explain how overall company objectives relate to an individual's work responsibilities, know and develop an individual's strengths, provide feedback to the employee and hold him or her accountable.

"Gallup's recent State of the American Manager report noted that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their manager helps them set work priorities, and just 13% strongly agree that their manager helps them set performance goals," Harter writes. "Highly engaged employees want ongoing feedback, and they want to be held accountable."

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