Improving Your Performance on Performance Reviews

It’s the time of year that every manager dreads – performance review time.  You’ll need to add a bunch of performance review discussions to your already busy schedule, complete paperwork for each meeting, and try to recall just what’s happened over the past 12 months. This can seem daunting for even the best managers, but the review process doesn’t have to be a burden. It can be used as a powerful tool to help employees learn what they did right, and help managers learn how to help their staff achieve career goals. Effective performance reviews result in improved morale, a happier workplace and higher profits ( A strong performance management process can be achieved by keeping some simple things in mind:

Before the meeting:

-          Schedule the meeting in advance – don’t stress out your employees by dropping in for an unannounced review.

-          Choose a private setting so you can have the discussion without distractions.

-          Set aside enough time – you not only want to have enough time to deliver the review, but also have time for questions and discussion that may not be anticipated.

-          Prepare ahead for the meeting – you should review last year’s performance review with particular attention to the employee’s goals.

-          Send a reminder a few days ahead of the meeting and ask your employee to come prepared to discuss his assessment of his performance over the past year.


During the meeting:

-          Begin with an evaluation of responsibilities – has your employee excelled at meeting them or fallen short? Take time to provide specific examples of how their behaviour has or has not met expectations.

-          Review each goal set from the previous year and discuss whether they have been met. If they have not been met, how can you help your employee better achieve his goals?

-          Have discussion points handy, but be flexible for any areas your employee would like to delve deeper into.

-          Be specific and objective when providing feedback to keep it constructive. Generalized observations are not going to be as helpful to your employee compared to specific examples.

-          Focus on the future and helping your employee set and achieve his career goals. Write down the goals and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

-          Before wrapping up the meeting, ask your employee if there’s anything you haven’t covered that they’d like to discuss.


After the meeting:

-          Grabbing a cup of coffee or lunch with your employee can end the review process on a positive, less stressful note. You want to help your employee form positive associations with the review process so it’s something that they look forward to taking part in each year.

Whether your formal performance reviews are scheduled annually or more frequently, it’s important to note that the most effective managers address staff performance throughout the year. If it gets to the end of the year and your employee hasn’t received any feedback in 12 months, their morale and job satisfaction is going to suffer. Positive feedback to celebrate successes, and constructive criticism to address problematic areas or issues, needs to happen regularly. The best managers ensure that employees receive feedback on an ongoing basis with the goal of making the formal performance review an opportunity for discussion and goal setting – not an opportunity to unload surprises on an unsuspecting employee.



Rodney Steele