I am about to conduct annual staff reviews for the first time. What is generally discussed?

Reviews should reflect on the year's accomplishments and challenges, of course, but also look ahead to the upcoming year's goals for growth.

Reviews should reflect on the year's accomplishments and challenges, of course, but also look ahead to the upcoming year's goals for growth.

The review should assess your employee's success in achieving his or her goals. Link each achievement to the specific skills that the staffer developed to reach the objective, and don't forget to praise the employee for these achievements.

If the employee has not met certain targets, you must discuss the reasons: Was the bar set too high? Did the employee receive enough training and mentoring to develop his or her skills? Did the employee make the necessary effort? Concentrate on how the staffer can improve in any areas where performance was unsatisfactory. Use this evaluation to create a professional-development program that will directly target the employee's weaknesses.

Reviews should also include goal setting for the upcoming year. At our firm, employees create SMART goals: each one should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. It's also a good idea to limit the number of goals staffers set. This way, everyone has a good chance to meet all their objectives and continue their growth.

Steve Seeman is VP at Makovsky & Company.

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