Do you know anyone who looks forward to year-end reviews? Yeah, me neither. Managers don’t like giving them. Employees don’t like getting them. But it’s important to document job performance and goals, and in some cases this is the only true feedback employees receive. (Managers should be providing feedback all year, but some don’t.) As a field service manager, what can you do to make sure you give a great year-end review? Here are five suggestions for how to do it right.

1. Get it done on time. This advice may seem pretty silly. What difference does it make whether the review happens in December or January? Well, it makes a lot of difference to your employees, especially if there’s a raise attached to the review. Employees who don’t get their reviews on time often feel neglected. That’s not the right way to round out the year. And if your year-end review includes goals for next year, putting it off means you’re setting up your employees to be behind in their goals before the new year even starts.

2. Be specific. Make sure your performance review addresses the things that really matter. How many times was your employee able to finish a complicated repair in one visit? How often did she receive comments from a customer — negative or positive. (And remember, people are far more likely to call and complain than they are to call and praise, so don’t hold it against your employees if no one picked up the phone to say how awesome they are.)

3. Listen. If your review is merely a laundry list of observations — average in on-time visits, below average in customer service and average in repair quality — then the whole thing is a waste of time. You could have written that down on a 3×5 card and stuck it in every employee’s truck. Use your feedback to open a dialogue. “You consistently arrive at your appointments on time. But when you are late, it’s often because of X. What can we do to improve your skills in this area?” Or you could say, “You’ve received six complaints this year, which is far more than I like to see. Let’s talk about how you can make customers happier.”

4. Offer concrete suggestions. Have you told your employees that you want them to take a specific technical training class? Have you given her three ideas for improving customer service? If the employees doesn’t walk out of your meeting knowing that you’re invested in helping them to be better field service techs, then your review has failed. This isn’t just a meeting to give a report card; it’s a chance to set the stage for the next year.

5. Ask for feedback. Huh? This are your employees’ reviews, not yours! Your manager will give you job feedback, so why should you ask your employees to do it, too? Because you need it. All managers do. Your employees knows more about customers, processes and repairs than you do because they work in the field every single day. They know what support they needs, so ask them how you can better support them in their jobs. You may learn something.

Now go out there and get your annual reviews done. Then keep in close contact with your employees, offering feedback as you go, and next year’s reviews will turn out to be a breeze.

ABOUT Suzanne Lucas

Avatar photoSuzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about Human Resources and Business for a number of different publications.