7 Tips for effective employee performance reviews

Tuesday September 24th, 2019

Estimated time to read: 1 minute, 45 seconds


Performance reviews can set the tone for employee-employer relations for the rest of the year. Done poorly, reviews can become punitive. Done well, reviews can be pathways toward further employee excellence.

So let’s look at seven key tips for running a more effective employee performance review:

1. Use standardized review schedules and question formats

Performance reviews should, at a macro level, be identical in their format and cadence. Many companies use a 360 feedback process every 9-12 months, for example.

Reviews are only effective if all employees have visibility into their construction and believe them to be equitable. While you can personalize the core questions and conversation around the actual role and responsibilities of an employee, by and large, there should be symmetry in reviews across the company.

2. Use quantitative and qualitative data

Using numerical KPIs, like monthly quotas or performance metrics, can lend authority and transparency to the review process. But reviews should also contain open-ended responses and feedback, too.

This way, employees understand the scales on which they’re graded and receive helpful context and relevant feedback from their peers and managers.

3. Evaluate through the lens of the individual and the company

Every evaluation form should contain questions that are relevant to the competencies of the position and the employee, not one-size-fits-all. That said, reviews should also track with the needs and trajectory of the company.

For example, employees should be assessed on how they perform in their role, but also whether the role they serve runs parallel to where the company is heading.

4. Source feedback from 8-10 people

Research indicates reviews are more comprehensive and actionable if feedback is solicited from at least eight people at varying levels of the company.

Companies that source responses from just a handful of peers or solely from a direct supervisor gain only skewed or impractical answers. With a larger pool of reviews on hand, managers can weed out unhelpful or biased responses and suss out themes that commonly resonate and resurface over time.

5. Be constructive, not critical

Reviews are not a platform for degrading performance or overtly critiquing an employee. They should be constructive and useful to all parties.

That means offering positive reinforcement and support during parts of the review that address weaknesses.

 6. Have a discussion, not a debate

Both the employee and the manager should be speaking during a review. It’s a two-way conversation that leads to productive next steps.

Getting too in the weeds on minor points or refuting an employee’s answers can devolve into an unnecessarily charged debate. Allow employees the freedom to speak honestly and at length rather than running the meeting like a lecture.

7. Follow up shortly after

Reviews shouldn’t be conducted in silos. They are not one-off events that crop up irregularly and without actionable next steps.

Provide thematic feedback to employees after the meeting, in the form of an email, printout or digital form. The review process shouldn’t stop at the top of the hour either. List out new benchmarks, upcoming 1:1s and confirmed performance metrics.

Tracking, monitoring and analyzing reviews can be easily accomplished via an HCM solution that’s configured to your organization.


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