How To | Conduct a Performance Review

The very mention of performance reviews is enough to induce groans in most employees, and who can blame them? No one likes negative potentially negative feedback.

However, there’s no reason why managers can’t make performance reviews a positive experience on both sides of the table. The overarching goal of performance reviews should always be an outcome that benefits both the staff and the larger organisation. 

Here’s a brief guide to hitting the nail on the head when conducting employee performance reviews.

Set criteria early

It’s a big mistake to think of performance reviews simply as the appraisal form and the process following. While these are certainly important, effective performance management should always start long before the reviews themselves start taking place.

In fact, with a well-drafted job description, you can set clear benchmarks for employee performance reviews. Reviewing the performance of a position that hasn’t been quantified is extremely hard, so make sure you’re specific when outlining performance criteria. 

There are some goals which will be hard to quantify by their very nature. Try your best to force these slippery targets into specific parameters that employees can strive towards.

If the goal is to be a more effective leader, for example, you need to be specific on the competencies effective leaders need to have – such as transferring skills, general mentoring, and then demonstrating that the employees under their wing have retained the skills they’ve been taught.

Fine-tune the process

Ask any HR expert, and they’ll tell you that performance reviews should never be isolated events, more a finishing touch to a whole year of regular meetings.

Managers have to be in constant contact with the employees they lead, thereby eliminating the possibility of any nasty surprises when an employee sits down for their review.

Periodic evaluations should take place at least once every quarter, giving managers and employees the chance to discuss what’s been working, what can be improved, and what needs to happen so improvements can be made. 

Though these meetings don’t require a detailed performance review form, managers should be taking notes to build an ongoing log of worker performance.

When it comes to the annual performance reviews themselves, don’t just rely on the same old form templates everyone else is using. These should be tailored to your company’s needs and culture in any way possible. 

Many consultants suggest dividing review forms into two sections: one for competencies, and one for individual goals. The competencies section should have subdivisions pertaining to general skills and attributes that benefit the whole company, such as communication, productivity, and other “soft” skills.

There should also be competencies specific to the job, which can be evaluated by the manager running the reviews. Finally, make sure there’s space for comment so that managers can elaborate on the scores they give.

Improve The Meeting

Finally, make sure there’s some real value to be gained from the meeting itself – on both sides of the table. Effective performance reviews need a slot of 40 minutes to an hour, and the manager needs to be able to give the employee his or her full attention, with no interruptions whatsoever.

Those conducting the reviews should always start with the good news. When they go in with the bad news straight away, employees may be at risk of shutting down, brooding over the negative points, and failing to pay attention to the rest of the review. Make sure that all the negative points are honest, but not pessimistic. 

Good managers should aim for objective judgements backed up by measurable evidence. All the leading HR professionals abhor cookie-cutter comments laced with subjectivity, like “your attitude needs work” or “you’re lazy”.

These kinds of statements are dragged down by their ambiguity, the fact that they’re so hard to act on, and how emotionally hurtful they can be.

Though there’s no such thing as a totally subjective judgement, it’s important that managers try to overlook the negative impressions a certain worker might have made in the past, and concentrate on specific, proven behaviours.

Follow these pointers, and soon your employee performance reviews will become a much more positive experience, both for you and your employees.

About A and D Recruitment 

A&D Recruitment is a vibrant, independent employment agency specialising in Renewable Energy & Building Services sectors. 

Founded by recruitment experts Alessia and Darren Williams, A&D Recruitment has successfully placed candidates in a diverse range of roles over the last 15 years.  

To get in contact call 01743 247774 or email on 

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