What is Your Staff Really Looking For From Their Year-End Reviews

The close of busy season for most CPA firms means it's time for employee reviews. Most firms will provide their employees with self-surveys, peer surveys, followed by one on one reviews to give feedback for their work throughout the year.  

In contrast, it seems that more and more companies are foregoing the performance review model in lieu of more regular, constant feedback throughout the year. It's true-- many employees report that they feel feedback in reviews can be biased or unfair, based on the personal relationship between employer and employee, for example. Evaluation meetings can be very stressful and anxiety-provoking for many people.  
 
So what is your staff really looking for from these reviews? How can you best benefit them in this process?
 
Perhaps the biggest thing, is that employees benefit from continuous feedback throughout the year. An annual performance review shouldn't be the first time someone hears of a complaint or even praise from their employer. You don't want to blindside your employee and make them feel antagonized. Regular feedback is also a great motivator throughout the year-- an excellent tool to utilize.
 
Employee reviews should be sure to take into consideration the entire year's worth of work and not the most recent. Yes, it may be the freshest in our minds, but it's important to gather good information through employee surveys and self reviews to take into account all the positive (or negative) benchmarks throughout the year. It might be worthwhile to take quarterly surveys from employees so that successes don't go overlooked depending on the time of year they occurred.
 
The review should also be highly focused on giving insight into how the employee can succeed moving forward-- not just focusing on the past. If an employee isn't getting a promotion, tell them what they can do to earn one in the future. Give them a set of goals, or work with them to put together a set of goals themselves. 
 
It can also be beneficial to employees if their superiors gather information about their performance from all levels. So allow your staff to peer review people on all levels (not just those directly above or below). Of course, they should be relevant (only people who work directly with each other). But there can often be tremendous workers who contribute a lot, but don't get the credit because their employers aren't asking the right people for feedback.