Moving aggressively to get the best talent is one of the most sensible choices a business can make, but talent doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Getting the most out of your staff doesn’t mean just hiring the best person for the job. It also means making sure that your employees are performing at their maximum capacity, that they have the tools available to them to succeed, and that proper procedures are in place to ensure that the very best people are promoted to higher positions.  A performance review is one of the best methods available when trying to get the best out of your employees, but there’s an art to it. Here’s what you need to know when approaching a performance review.

It’s essential to ensure that your review isn’t just a one-way street. While reports from your managers and paperwork that outlines your employee’s performance can be a great place to understand their successes, that only tells you part of the story. That’s why self-assessments can be critically important. Getting a perspective from your employees directly can help you get a new perspective on their office performance and potentially develop new tools to help them succeed. This direct approach can also allow you to get a broader perspective on their work ethic. The last few months can tell you a lot about their skills and character, but it’s important to look back throughout the whole year and look at the situation in totality. A few bad weeks or some recent mistakes shouldn’t torpedo the reputation of an employee who has otherwise performed at peak capacity, and employees who have improved their work ethics in expectation of their performance review shouldn’t be rewarded for such short term foresight.

It’s also imperative to recognize that the results of a performance review can have a sizable effect on their future. Properly preparing for the review and setting enough time aside to assess the situation doesn’t just give you the means to make sure you’re making the right decision. It also shows that you respect your staff enough to evaluate their work ethic and listen to their concerns.

Whatever you do, try not to be dictatorial in the process. There’s ultimately going to be an uneven power dynamic in a performance review, but the goal isn’t adversarial. Both the manager and the employee are there to create a better work environment, and that should be approached as a conversation between two people rather than an interrogation.