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3 tips for a more effective performance review

As a manager, executive, or HR professional, chances are there’ll come a point in time when you have to give your employees a performance review.

Performance reviews, simply put, are an assessment and evaluation of an employee’s performance in the workplace. A comprehensive review will identify the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, provide feedback, and help the employee set goals to accomplish big-picture items.

Performance reviews, when conducted effectively, are a great way to set your employees up for success within the workplace. By up-leveling the typical, run-of-the-mill performance review, you can boost morale among your employees, help them reach their potential, get them excited about their work, and create a healthier and more productive workplace.

All it takes is a few simple adjustments to upgrade your performance reviews, which we discuss in detail below:


1. Adopt a 360-degree view

A performance review shouldn’t reflect just one point of view nor should it be one-sided. Instead, it’s become standard practice to incorporate 360-degree feedback into performance reviews. Essentially, this means soliciting feedback from an employee’s coworkers, direct manager (if it’s someone other than you), and any other reporting staff and/or colleagues who have worked closely with the employee.

This helpfully broadens the information you have on the employee and creates a more complete picture of their performance. It also helps you to uncover themes in their work while also bringing to light aspects of their performance you may not even be aware of.

Once you’ve compiled peer feedback, share it with the employee prior to their performance review. This provides them with the chance to self-reflect before their conversation with you. It also helps them to see the impact their work has on the company’s bigger picture, which can be a rewarding and motivating experience.

Don’t forget to also provide employees with the opportunity to self-evaluate their own performance. Not only does this assist in their self-reflection, but it gives you an idea of how the employee perceives themselves.


2. Emphasize the positive

One important thing to keep in mind is that performance reviews should never be a ‘once-a-year’ event in the workplace. Effective managers discuss an employee’s performance (both the positive and the areas for improvement) regularly. Sometimes, this means daily. Other times, it may occur on a more weekly basis. Either way, an employee should never hear about positive performance or performance in need of improvement for the first time within their formal review. A performance review, rather, is the opportunity to re-emphasize critical points that have been highlighted in previous, ongoing discussions.

That said, within the allotted time of a performance review, it’s helpful to emphasize the positive aspects of an employee’s performance. In fact, positive components should take up the majority of the discussion and far outweigh any negative components. The reason for this is simple. Focusing on the positive helps to boost their morale. Most everyone feels encouraged by praise, and applauding your employees for a job well done will

Of course, you don’t want to neglect areas of improvement either. When necessary, speak directly. Also use very specific examples (i.e. instead of “you’ve had a bad attitude lately”, try: “last Monday, a client reported that you were short with them on the phone when discussing the upcoming merger…”).

Remember, performance reviews are dialogues, not monologues. Allow your employee the chance to express themselves and listen with the intent to understand. Then, together, develop a plan to help them work on their areas of improvement and further expand upon the positive aspects of their performance.


3. Set and Review Goals

Usually, companies conduct an annual meeting wherein they share the organisation’s goals for the year as well as its expectations for its teams. Ideally, you’re also meeting with your employees individually to help them set their own performance goals for the year.

If not, it’s a great habit to adopt, especially since performance reviews (when conducted quarterly) provide the excellent opportunity to regularly review those goals. Goal-setting gives your employees a roadmap to success. It ensures that both you and them are clear on any and all expectations of their work and also provides an outline for them to follow and refer to as needed.

An excellent framework to use when setting goals is the SMART model, which we discuss here. In a nutshell, SMART stands for goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound.

Setting aside time during a performance review to create goals for the coming months will set your employees up to achieve a great deal more than they otherwise would’ve without an action plan. Reviewing those goals in your next conversation with them will also help you address any gaps in tools, training, or resources that they may need in order to finish their projects. In this way, you’ll build them up and help them acquire new skills, which will enhance future performance and benefit the company at large.



Performance reviews are a staple in the workplace, and they’re a great opportunity to build up your employees and help them reach their full potential. By using the strategies above, you’ll take your performance reviews to the next level and create a workplace where people thrive in their positions like never before.

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