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Conducting Effective Performance Reviews

Conducting Effective Performance Reviews

As the year approaches its end, performance reviews may be on many employer and employee’s minds. Although performance reviews are often perceived as “scary,” whether you are giving the review or receiving the review, they can be one of the best ways for an organization to engage their staff— if done correctly.

As an employee, performance reviews provide a chance to ask for candid feedback, express likes and dislikes, and gauge performance. Likewise, for managers, the performance review is a great way to gain feedback about workload, project selection and management style.

There are five easy steps that suggests for conducting an effective performance review —Preparation, Structure, Discussion (conduct review), Review, and Evaluation.

Preparation—Schedule a meeting time with the employee being reviewed. Be sure to give them plenty of advanced notice and ensure that you have allotted enough time to conduct the review. also suggests a quiet location with little distractions—offsite might be a good option. Ask the employee to provide a self-assessment or reflect on themselves prior to the review and ask others for feedback as appropriate.

Structure—Review the employee’s goals and evaluation criteria. Develop comments, including positive feedback as well as constructive criticism that can be shared during the actual review. Check with your human resource department as they may have a standard evaluation form they would like you to use or could provide you to help guide your discussion. Use specific examples from the entire evaluation period. Again, review any notes or performance documentation completed throughout the year.

Conduct the Review—This portion of the process should consist of a two-way dialogue. Begin by greeting the employee, explain the purpose of the review, and explain the flow of the meeting. Ask the employee to summarize their self assessment or how they feel things have gone. Follow this with your assessment—articulate your thoughts by considering, “what are the most important points that need to be communicated to the employee about their performance during the review?”

Review—During the performance review, be sure to review the core points and clarify the points of agreement as well as differences. Ask the employee if they have any further concerns. If there are areas of concern or growth opportunities, talk through what could be done to help that employee overcome those challenges or achieve growth – perhaps a training of some kind. As a manager, be sure you are actively listening and don’t become defensive. Also be sure to ask for feedback from the employee about your management style. However, make sure that if you ask for the feedback that you try to take that feedback to heart and make changes. Outline any changes or new goals for the next period and follow by assigning times, deadlines, and next steps.

Evaluation—The final section is to complete the actual evaluation form and assign ratings. You may have a rating system where you look at each competency or an overall rating system. Share the final evaluation with the employee and ask for signature as well as additional written comments. File this paperwork with your human resources department.

When it comes down to it, a performance review should not be used as a time to take out all frustrations and criticisms on an employee—this is how performance reviews got the negative connotation and do nothing for the organization or employee. There should not be any surprises during a performance review! As a manager, you should be communicating the positive and negative feedback on a regular basis with your employees. Performance reviews should be an opportunity for positive recognition and enforcement of the critical points.

For further direction or assistance with developing an effective performance review process or other human resource practices, can help! Email at