Finding superstar employees is tough… and when you do find them, you don’t want to lose them. Here’s one way to keep your superstars – and potential superstars – happy: Tell them how they are doing.

And I mean with much more than an occasional pat on the back and hearty “Good job!”

If you want your employees (and your company) to grow, you can help them excel by scheduling formal yearly performance reviews. You sit down with each employee, and take a comprehensive look at all the work they have done over the past year. You discuss how their skills have progressed, their biggest successes, where they need improvement, and their goals for the coming year.

  • Salespeople, for example, should know how much revenue they should bring in for the year – including weekly and monthly sales goals.
  • Supervisors should come out of the review with ways they could improve their interactions with employees. For instance, how they could have handled Johnny’s in-office temper tantrum or how they could have resolved the conflict between Anne and Gina.
  • Tech people should be acknowledged for pushing through that big system upgrade, and then be given specific details about how the process needs to be streamlined in the next year.

This is exactly what MaryEllen Tribby does at Early to Rise. And every employee leaves their meeting with a good idea of where he stands and where he is going in the year ahead.

It takes time to thoroughly go over each employee’s track record, and it can be tough to highlight failings. But it’s important to give your people regular feedback.

You put a lot of effort into finding great people to work for you. If you intend to keep them, they need to know what they are doing well and what specifically they need to improve. If they feel like they are working in a vacuum – that whether they do a good job or not doesn’t matter – they’re likely to find an employer who will communicate with them.

So don’t wait until the last minute, and don’t send your performance reviews by e-mail with “ratings” and minimal comments. Get detailed. Keep notes on your employees throughout the year. Do the reviews in person, and make them complete.

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