Christmas is a time when we see traditionally many employees reflecting on their careers and what the new year will bring. As a result, each January we see an increased level of new job seekers coming on to the market looking for new employers and new opportunities.

The retention of your staff is going to be an essential element of the success of your business in 2016 and with just over four weeks to Christmas and demand for workers across the building and construction sector high, you need to take action to ensure your employees do not go in the festive season with their careers on their mind.

The end of the year is a great time for employers to initiate performance discussions with their teams. It is a time when you can review the past year, show recognition for their contributions to the business and talk about the year ahead. That includes the projects and direction of the company and the role they play in it, as well as the opportunities that may offer them for advancement or professional development.

Done well, a performance discussion is motivational and will help you set a solid foundation with your team for a successful 2016.

To help you get to get the best from these discussions here are 10 tips that will help:

  1. Give them notice of the meeting to enable them to prepare. Let them know you would like to discuss what they have achieved in 2015 and what they are looking for from you in 2016. Ask them to think about their successes, what training they feel they would like/need and what they would like from their career with you.
  2. Create the right atmosphere. It should be an environment that is friendly but enables you to have frank conversations
  3. Plan for the meeting. Create a structure for your conversation. Begin with a general overview and praise to help the employee feel relaxed before any issues are raised.
  4. Make sure any feedback given is factual. The employee should be able to see you have based your feedback on factual observations rather than emotions.
  5. Make sure there is plenty of time for the employee to have their say and contribute to the conversation to ensure they feel it was balanced and fair.
  6. Encourage employees to analyse themselves and their performance.
  7. Ask them for feedback on how they view their role and what they would like from it in 2016 and what professional development they would like to achieve their goals.
  8. Ask them what you and the company can do to help them achieve their goals
  9. End the meeting on a positive note by either agreeing on an action plan or arranging a second meeting to agree a plan.
  10. Never ever cancel an appraisal conversation “because something more important came up” and always follow through on any action you agree to. Otherwise you are sending a message to your employees that you don’t care about them.