What Are 2-Way Performance Reviews?

A 2-way performance review evaluates the employee from the manager’s point of view as well as from the employee’s. Find out how it can benefit your company.

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What Are 2-Way Performance Reviews?

Here's what you need to know:

  • With a 2-way review, a manager is able to share their views as well as see performance from an employee’s perspective
  • Two-way performance reviews are a proactive way business can get employees to reflect on their role and their career within the organization
  • Dialogue can lead to understanding, growth, and development — key to top performance and growth within the company

Performance reviews, or employee evaluations, can be an annual event or come more frequently. Depending on organizational structure, there may be short check-ins with employees throughout the year followed by an annual sit-down meeting.

The object of the review is to look back at the year to assess how the employee has performed. The larger objective is to look forward, to the coming year (or sooner) to find ways to build and develop.

There are several types of performance reviews, some based on rating scales. Others require essay-type answers to specific questions. These run the gamut from generic questions that apply to most employees to reviews specifically written for each position or department.

Whichever type of review is used, shifting your practice to a 2-way performance system can be enlightening and even more productive than a single perspective approach.

What are 2-way performance reviews?

A 2-way performance review evaluates the employee from the manager’s point of view as well as from the employee’s.

The staff member is provided with a blank copy of the review sheet and is asked to self-assess. Then the manager and worker discuss where their assessments align and where they diverge.

In some organizations the completed reviews are exchanged in advance to allow both parties to look over what the other has included.

In others, the manager and employee have a first look at the results during the evaluation meeting. A best practice may be to assess the reviews together, adding more time to the planned meeting.

2-way performance reviews can open a dialogue

When both parties have insight into how the work is being performed, the result can be eye-opening.  With most performance reviews, the staffer may be unaware of an area where their manager sees the need for growth or an area of top performance.

With a 2-way review, the manager is able to share their views as well as see performance from the employee’s perspective.

The worker may be more confident in their strengths than warranted. They may also reveal areas where they feel they are under-performing.

With a 2-way review, the manager is able to share their views as well as see performance from the employee’s perspective.

If the manager disagrees, there’s an opportunity to uncover the reason for the insecurity and build up the employee’s confidence.

In many cases, the manager and staffer’s views will align. Even though there’s agreement, these areas are still important to discuss. This is an opportunity within employee performance management to reward good performance, and dig deeper into areas where the employee is comfortable and engaged.

Go beyond the standard form and ask open-ended questions

Moving to a 2-way performance review system can be as easy as handing the staffer a blank form. To get more from the process, ask the worker to include answers to some open-ended questions, as well.

You’ll want their assessment on:

Achievements for the past year

Ask them to outline what they thought were the highlights of their year as far as performance and  job satisfaction.

Again, you might find their view vastly different than your own. They may feel prouder of the smaller achievements than the larger, more public accomplishments. This can provide meaningful insight into what makes the employee tick.

Ask them to include what satisfies them the most and where they see their strengths. Armed with this knowledge, you may find opportunities to grow and develop their skill set. You may also find ways to add responsibilities and pathways to build on their interests.

If you can, capitalize on an area (or several) where the employee already feels confident and competent. This can make it easier to suggest additional responsibilities as well as training to grow their skill set even further.

Goals for the coming year

Ask the staff member to outline what they hope to achieve in the coming year. They may be focused on developing their knowledge base or skills.

This could be an opening to suggest specific training. If they reveal an area of particular interest, you may start them on a mentoring program that helps them get a more comprehensive view of the position.

If goals are growth-oriented, build on them. An opportunity to align your company’s needs with an employee’s interests doesn’t arise without dialogue.

Ask the staffer to consider this question comprehensively: what challenges do they want to take on? You’ll want to work with the staffer to achieve these goals. This may include coaching, training, or just checking in periodically to see if they’re on track to meet their objective.

Career plans

One of the most important questions you want to address are the employee’s career plans. Where do they see themselves within the company over the next year and beyond?

When you work with a staffer to plan their growth within your company, you boost retention. Planning for their future inside your organization means they feel no need to look elsewhere to meet their career goals. Opening up this dialogue could result in a long-term, highly engaged staff member.

Career growth is a top tool businesses use to attract and retain talent. Even if a step up the ladder isn’t immediately apparent, working with an employee to be assured they’re ready for a move when it becomes available is key.

Employees may feel stagnant in their role and anxious to make a change, but there’s nowhere to go either internally or outside the organization. This type of employee may be at high risk for flight. Work with these staff members to look for opportunities to grow and be challenged.

You may offer a lateral move within the company that gives them a chance to restart their career. Opportunities to develop new skills and learn new things could be just what’s needed to retain the staff member.

Asking an employee, formally, to consider and outline their career plans and goals offers the opportunity to discuss where they want to go. The next step is brainstorming how you can help get them there within your organization, rather than elsewhere.

2-way performance reviews can promote engagement

Empowering employees to take ownership of performance and growth is key to engagement. Two-way performance evaluations are an excellent tool to encourage that ownership.

Rather than taking a passive role in the annual discussion, employees are asked to actively assess their performance. This can be as enlightening to them as it is to their manager.

Two-way performance reviews offer the staffer an opportunity to reflect on where they’ve been, what motivated and challenged them. It also gives them a chance to plan for the future.

Rather than dreading the process, staff members are participants in the review. They may offer insight into where they think their manager, or the company, can provide more support and assistance.

That information may mean saving an employee who was considering moving on, or developing talent for the next challenge within your organization.

2-way performance reviews can bridge differences in perspectives

There may be areas where the manager and employee are vastly different in their perspective. The worker may think they’re performing well but the manager disagrees.

These must be handled carefully. Steer the discussion to why they feel this is a strength or area of achievement: then outline where you think there can be improvement. Try to meet somewhere in the middle, offering coaching and training to get staff to the level you want them to be, rather than where they think they are.

Two-way performance reviews are a proactive way business can get employees to reflect on their role and their career within the organization. They may seem like a dramatic change from the way you’ve normally assessed staffers but they offer an opportunity for discussion. Dialogue can lead to understanding, growth, and development — key to top performance and growth within the company.

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