Bookending each year of business, performance reviews allow employees and leaders to connect, reflect, and plan for the future. Naturally, a significant component of performance management meetings will be constructive feedback; however, managers should also focus on several additional elements. 

By taking the time to not only critique employees but also listen to them, engage them, and create collaborative goals, leaders can ensure that performance management meetings become a cornerstone of their management strategy.


1. Preparation

Before entering a performance review meeting, managers should examine an employee’s previous performance reviews. Within these reviews, you’ll find a comprehensive look at an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, successes, and drawbacks, as well as their goals for the future. 

During the impending review, managers should use prior reviews in order to contextualize an employee’s current performance. For example, suppose a prior review indicated that a funeral director aimed to improve their satisfaction rating from families. You can use this information in the new review to understand whether or not they achieved this goal.


2. Reflection

On the employee’s end, employees should be asked to review themselves before engaging in a formal review. In this type of self-evaluation, an employee will return to their prior reviews, take a look at the goals they’d set for themselves, and assess how they performed.

During the present review, managers should refer to these self-evaluations as the foundation of discussion. When an employee notes that they’ve reached a goal, leadership can applaud them, as well as discuss what actions the employee took to achieve said result. Alternatively, if an employee acknowledges that they’ve failed to achieve a goal, a manager can discuss how this can be improved in the future, setting goals accordingly.


3. Active Listening

Ultimately, the goal of any performance review is to better understand how team members work, how they currently excel, and how they stand to grow. Because of this, managers need to create an atmosphere of empathy and trust. 

Employees should not fear that admitting to a shortcoming will result in their termination or demotion; rather, they should trust that their manager listens to their experience. If team members feel comfortable expressing their weaknesses honestly, then managers can help them practice new skills to overcome any relevant obstacles. Growth mapping in this manner is one of the best ways to engage employees.


4. Transparency

Honest communication is crucial to any performance review, and this is just as important for both the employee and the manager. Both participants should speak honestly about the employee’s performance. This provides the basis for discussion.

If a manager feels that a team member could perform more effectively, they should state this, albeit compassionately. In response to this honest feedback, an employee may agree, disagree, or even ask clarifying questions. Ideally, at the end of the review, an employee and manager are on the same page in terms of current performance and subsequent steps. 


5. Goal-Setting

Based on the collaborative assessment of an employee, both an employee and manager can work together to create goals for the upcoming year. In most cases, an employee will need several sets of goals that play to their current strengths and challenge them to work on their shortcomings. 

By articulating these goals in a formal manner, managers can realign with their team members and ensure that they’re on the same page with company-wide goals.


6. Action

No goal is complete without accompanying actions and KPIs (Key Performance Indicator). If an employee aims to increase their preneed sales, then they will need to settle on a tangible number of sales within a certain timeframe. 

For goals that are more difficult to measure––for example, refining one’s leadership practice––managers might consider career development opportunities, calling on outside assistance to boost the skill sets of their teams. 


Develop your Team with JCG Academy

While many death care skills, particularly those for younger employees, can be learned on the job from senior team members, employees with more experience should still be given opportunities to grow. For these team members, it’s often helpful to call on those with professional development expertise. 

Johnson Consulting Group, a leader in death care consulting, offers a professional development service, JCG Academy. Administered by JCG’s consultants, JCG Academy courses can help your teams with leadership, management, and customer service skills. The consultants at JCG Academy possess a wealth of experience working with death care businesses of all sizes, and they can help your team stay up to date on the best practices in the industry. 

Performance management meetings help employees realign with the goals of their teams at large, setting initiatives for the coming year and planning for growth. If you’re looking to fast-track your employees’ growth, then JCG Academy courses can help refine the existing skills of your teams.