How to Conduct a Performance Review of Your Employees

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In the business world, performance reviews can be a make or break for employees, as well as employers. Accurately determining the progress and effectiveness of an employee means making sure that the quality of their work is making a positive impact on your business . Today we’ll be covering all aspects of employee performance reviews. Check out our article, and learn how to make sure your performance reviews are up to par!

What is an Employee Performance Review?

An employee performance review is an assessment of any one employee’s work performance. When used effectively, the review can be used to identify any number of things. Strengths, weaknesses, and educational opportunities can all be discovered by using a well constructed performance review. Well constructed performance reviews aren’t executed without good planning, though. There are steps to be followed, and practices to keep in mind, that make for a good performance review.

The Steps to Creating an Effective Performance Review

When preparing to give your employees a performance review, be sure to follow the steps outlined below for the best success. They will help you prepare for the evaluation, as well as execute it flawlessly.

1. Create an Evaluation Form

The first step to having meaningful performance reviews with your employees is creating an evaluation form . This form should be something that objectively focuses on job performance in a number of areas. The areas you’ll want to pinpoint are based on the type of jobs that your employees are carrying out, and can range from department to department. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to focus your evaluations on the following areas:

  • Job Knowledge - What knowledge does the employee possess about the functions or tasks they should be carrying out?

  • Quality - In all fields, quality of work is an important factor in relation to the jobs that employees carry out.

  • Quantity - Quantity of work is important when in high demand fields, and is a factor that can be easily measured in most cases.

  • Work Habits - Work habits consist of things similar to tardiness, adherence to deadlines, and attendance.

  • Attitude and Disposition - While you may think this is subjective, it is not. Attitude and disposition have everything to do with willingness to work with team members and the way criticism is taken, both of which are required practices in all forms of business.

Then, using these areas, you’ll determine the rating scale you’d like to evaluate your employees with. This can be a number scale, like a 1 to 10 rating system, or using terms like Does Not Meet Expectations with varying degrees of separation all the way up to Exceeds Expectations. It’s up to you, the employer or manager, entirely.

2. Create Metrics

Any area on the evaluation form that you have identified will need a metric that’s associated with it. For example, when it comes to Quality, a set of standards should be created and provided to the employees that indicates what standards have to be met when performing job duties. Then, when doing an evaluation of the quality of work, you’ll have an established checklist that identifies if all standards have been met. Other areas can be more simplistic, such as Quantity’s metric being related to the number of completed tasks meeting a benchmark. Metrics play an important part in all performance reviews.

3. Prepare All Feedback Prior to the Review

The final step before the actual performance review is to prepare all measures and feedback before meeting with your employee. Feedback must be documented, as well as concise. In terms of behavioral feedback, anecdotes must be unbiased and presented in a way that reflects the impact it has on the workplace. You never want to be unprepared or without specific feedback when meeting for performance evaluations. A helpful tip when preparing feedback; document everything . Documentation is key in performance reviews. Being able to provide specific examples where employees have exceeded expectations or have not met them makes a world of difference in the review, and leaves the employee without questions.

4. Meet With Your Employees

This step is not as simple as it seems. Delivering a performance review, especially one with negative feedback or results, can be a hard thing to do. When meeting with your employees, keep conversation open. You don’t want to shut down the pathways of communication, doing so can (and most likely will) negatively impact the conversation with the employee. Some conversations are harder than others, but they still need to be conversations. No one likes to feel berated.

5. Discuss Improvement Plans Together

Unless the employee needs to be given disciplinary action that is well established in the code of conduct and based on their performance review, plan on discussing improvement as a team rather than as a dictator. Your employees will most likely already know where their weaknesses lie, and will have their own ideas on how to improve moving forward. Come to the table with ideas about this improvement, not commands.

6. Provide Evaluation Feedback as Hard Copies

It goes without saying that documentation is important in every single step of this process. When you’ve completed the performance review with your employee, it is important to provide them a hard copy of the documentation. Then, following the meeting, any and all notes and improvement plan information should be typed up and provided, as well. You want to create a culture of transparency with your employees. Any and all documentation should be given to them. Furthermore, when giving them the performance review and improvement plan as a hard copy, you create greater opportunities for success moving forward. The entire point of a performance review is to help strengthen the effectiveness of your employees. Providing everything in writing to them is the best way to do that.

Things to Keep in Mind

While we look at performance reviews as tools for success, employees may not feel the same way. There is a stigma surrounding performance reviews as an unnecessary evil, but that reputation may come from a few things surrounding the performance reviews of the past. Take into consideration the following when approaching performance reviews.

A Stressful Experience

Whether they’ll admit it or not, employees find performance reviews to be stressful. In the past, performance reviews have been meant solely to identify weaknesses, not focusing enough on the strengths an employee possesses. To be the most effective, these reviews need to bring to the table the negative and the positive, as well as be done on a conversational basis. This isn’t to say that sugarcoating should happen; in fact, we’re saying the opposite. Give them realistic feedback on where they fall short, but be sure to back it up with their positive performances as well. Bring examples to the table of what you want to see across the board, rather than just isolated incidents.

Timing is Everything

In the past, performance reviews have been on an annual schedule, rather than a regular one. This single review a year is not enough to facilitate a healthy relationship with criticism and improvement. In most cases, when done on an annual basis and solely tied to salary, performance reviews tend to harbor a negative reputation. To dissuade this, have two to three a year, with follow up done in between. This allows for ongoing improvement monitoring, and lets the conversation continue after the review. This is going to prove to be invaluable when looking for progress, as well as getting to know what suggestions will help your employees.

No One Likes an Unpleasant Surprise

With that negative reputation comes a plethora of negative side effects. Even if your employees are given performance reviews at the same time of the year on an annual basis, if not reminded it may feel like a surprise. Give your employees an ample amount of time to prepare for their performance reviews. This allows them to bring to the table their own set of strengths and accomplishments to assist you during the review. Make them feel like they’re part of the process.


More often than not, employees are not thrilled about performance reviews, though they are necessary to a high functioning business model. Using a concise evaluation form that outlines expectations and metrics is highly effective in delivering performance reviews. Additionally, coming to the review as a coach rather than a commander helps drastically improve the mood surrounding the review. Working with your employees on improving their weaknesses and focusing on their strengths helps create a good relationship with them. Performance reviews don’t have to be a negative experience, like they were in the past. Using the comprehensive guide we’ve put together and following our outlined tips can make the process as pain free as possible!

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