Performance review season tends to be a time that both managers and employees dread. The process can be time consuming and stressful for everyone involved. However, if leadership and staff are on the same page before, during, and after the reviews, the process can go smoothly and everyone can be satisfied. Here are some things to keep in mind about performance reviews.

Everyone Should Be Prepared

Managers, as the individuals who will lead the reviews, should be prepared with facts, observations, and questions. A performance review is the perfect time to go over what's working, what's not working, and what can be done to improve a situation. When a manager has facts and notes in front of her, it's easier to keep the meeting on track and to be straightforward with the employee about any potential performance issues. Employees should also do their part to prepare for the meeting. Before being reviewed, and employee should take the time to look over their goals for the previous year and assess whether those goals were met, consider what parts of their job are going well and what could be worked on, and what goals they would set for themselves going forward. Being prepared can help prevent anxiety about the meeting and can help to show a manager that the employee is taking his job responsibilities seriously.

Reviews Aren't Always Tied to Compensation

It would be great if every employee who accomplished goals and performed well could leave a performance review with a bonus check and a raise. Unfortunately, that's usually not possible. Money might be off the table for several reasons. Employees who are at the top of their pay scale may not be eligible. Priority might be given to those who are already in line for a raise. Or, the company simply may not have the funds to give. While the company may not be in the position to offer bonuses and raises, there are other ways to show your appreciation to great employees. If possible, consider offering extra vacation time, a flexible work from home option, or a recognition award to reward excellent performance.

Performance Reviews Can Be Positive

While most people don't look forward to performance reviews, the experience doesn't need to be negative. To ensure a more positive review process, managers should be direct, focus on both positives and negatives, and provide clear direction. Employees should keep in mind that the information they receive is meant to be helpful and used to improve their performance. When both managers and employees view the performance review as a constructive conversation, the yearly meeting can be a good one.