At the end of the year, most small business owners with employees conduct performance assessments. These conversations can be uncomfortable, even if they’re full of positive comments. Together, you’ve worked through projects, events, wins, and losses. In this article, we’ll discuss crucial end-of-the-year conversations to have with your employees.
Depending on the size of your organization, you might want to consider an all-hands meeting in which you highlight both positives and negatives the company has achieved. And present the questions you’ll ask in the one-on-one meetings, so every team member has the opportunity to think about their answers. Your company is sure to benefit from your employees’ advice. Here are some ideas:
How do you prefer to receive and provide feedback?
Annual performance reviews have been the norm for a long time; however, it might not be the best approach. If something great—or terrible—happened many months ago, it could be forgotten. Additionally, all your employees have different communication needs. Some choose verbal interactions while others are happy to get information through emails; you may have people who want a quick weekly check-in while their peers prefer a monthly or quarterly conversation. You may find a unique way to share information that works better for everyone.
How can I make your job easier and more enjoyable?
A happy, engaged team leads to positive results. You might never know what motivates your people unless you ask! Take the time to have a discussion with each employee to find out what they need to bring their A-game to work every day. And remember, you’re likely to get different answers from everyone. Depending on your business, you might get feedback about flexible hours, casual dress, remote work, or upgraded hardware and software.
What was your biggest achievement this year?
This is a perfect question that you absolutely should ask your employees. However, it’s not a great question to surprise someone with, which is why we recommended giving everyone a heads-up. When your people answer this question, you’ll learn more about their motivations and goals, and could help you steer them toward projects where they’ll be the most successful. This is also a great opportunity for you to tell your employees that they think they are doing well and let them know that they appreciate all the work they do.
What are your goals for next year?
Typically, a performance review is a discussion that looks backwards. Goal-setting conversations look forward and help you and the employee determine how to move toward those achievements. Hearing your employees’ goals can lead naturally into discussions about areas where your employees have room for growth and improvement, such as better time management or interaction with customer service.
Which of your skills do you think we can use most effectively?
These kinds of career conversations are your secret weapon. You already know you have good people, so help them develop into great people. The answers to this question will tell you the skills your employees have that you may not know about. Help your team contribute to the business in more effective ways. By doing so, you encourage them to have greater ownership of what they do, and perhaps even improve processes you didn’t know need to be improved.