Performance reviews can be rough. They are enough to make a confident manager feel anxious and competent employees doubt their contributions. Nobody, and I really mean nobody, looks forward to performance reviews.

While some of those feelings are inevitable, there are a few things you can do to make the process a little less painful. We’ve gathered five steps to take during your next performance reviews to establish a more comfortable and effective experience for all involved.

Recognize, Recognize, Recognize

It’s important for employees to feel that their contributions and good work haven’t gone unnoticed. Try to be as specific as possible when acknowledging accomplishments, such as specific metrics or anecdotes.

Guide With Goals

Use goals as a framework for the discussion by outlining accomplished and future milestones. This establishes a solution-oriented approach, while providing structure and clarity to the review. Draw a connection between the employee’s successes, the behaviors that led to them, and what this means for future goals.

Present The Constructive Criticism And Opportunities For Growth

It should now be easier to present constructive criticism in how it relates to the discussed goals and achievements. In fact, this context helps employees independently recognize how they can ramp up their work performance.

As Beverly Ballaro recommends in a Harvard Business Review article, “collaborate, don’t assassinate.” Develop a plan of action together that outlines steps for both the employee and the manager, as well as the possible positive and negative outcomes. Positive outcomes can include incentives, career development opportunities, and other benefits the employee can look forward to in the near future. Negative outcomes should cut to the heart of the matter, yet still be encouraging so the employee recognizes what needs to be improved immediately.

Open The Door For Feedback

Improvement is a two-way street, and managers should also seek feedback to ensure they are holding up their end in supporting the employee. Providing a comfortable outlet for constructive feedback can improve working relationships, resolve issues, and create a more productive workplace.

Sum It All Up

Employees should walk away with a clear idea of what they are doing well, what they should be working toward, how to get there, and what it will look like once they do. Provide a written summary and confirm that both parties feel comfortable with the takeaways of the conversation.