performance reviews

7 Tips For Productive Performance Reviews

Laura T
Laura T

Employee Reviews, Performance Reviews, Workplace Report Cards.

Call it what you want, but employee reviews are crucial to any organization looking to grow in profitability and maintain a decent culture, (aka every company). These reviews are your chance to have honest 1:1 discussions with employees about what’s been going well—and what hasn’t been going so well. With everyone out of the office and the potential for a future in remote work, these reviews are especially crucial to ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

If you are a new manager or just looking to improve your performance reviews, you’ve come to the right place.

Choose Your Cadence, Be Consistent.

How often you do employee reviews is up to you. While many companies do an in-depth annual performance review at the end of the calendar year, some companies do shorter reviews more consistently. If you already have a stable feedback cycle (say, your manager meets with employees individually once a month), then doing performance reviews once or twice a year may be just fine. However, if those meetings aren’t happening, doing quarterly performance “conversations” might work best for your company. 

Prepare Your Employees. 

Ensure that at the beginning of a period—the year, the quarter, whenever, you have communicated goals and expectations clearly to your employees. You can’t judge them for not meeting expectations that you never shared. These goals and expectations should be clearly defined so that they cannot be misconstrued. While these are likely to be heavily based on data, they can also be in line with your mission statement and core values.

Additionally, some companies give employees a full or shortened paper copy of a summary of their evaluation beforehand, so they don’t walk in blind. Once again, this is dependent on what works best for your company, but it’s never a bad idea to allow someone to process the information beforehand.

Prepare Yourself. 

Just like your employee works hard to ensure they have a good review, you should be working hard to make sure that you can provide them a solid one. Keep notes throughout the year/period of the evaluation of things they did well and things that could’ve gone better. Solicit feedback from close colleagues they work with—even as their manager, chances are you don’t see everything, and talking to others could give you a good picture of what kind of teammate they are. 

Be Honest.

I get it—nobody wants to be the bad guy. But if an employee who has done a less-than-stellar job only hears a watered-down, “this could’ve gone better,” nothing is going to change. In the end, it only hurts you (you are the manager and often have to deal with their shortcomings), the team, and the company. On the other side, be honest with your employees who have done a great job—don’t water down their accomplishments! Patting an employee on the back is a great way to keep them motivated to continue to do great work.

Put Your Listening Ears On. 

While you think you may have a consistent eye on what your employees are doing and how the team is interacting, you probably don’t have the full picture. While you are guiding the review, make sure to keep the conversation open, because there is a good chance that your employee experienced bottlenecks or other roadblocks that may have hindered their performance. It’s up to you to help provide the resources to ensure your teammates can be successful. 

Be Clear on Next Steps

Ensure that the employee leaves the review feeling confident and knowing what’s expected of them—this may mean new goals with measurable ways to improve. Also, make next steps for yourself—if your employee ran into issues that you have the power to fix, whether they had a technical roadblock, or could use your help with discussing deadline importance with another co-worker, you have some feedback for yourself too.

Use Data

Before and after your reviews, use data to enhance feedback and measure if your employees are meeting your goals. Data is just another way to make sure that you have clear, indisputable evidence when you enter a performance review, or when you are looking to see if an employee made positive changes after one. 

And if you want your employee reviews to be jam-packed with good feedback, content, and indisputable data, consider Peoplelogic. With a people intelligence platform, you can get a read on your employees’ engagement and troubleshoot problems and bottlenecks proactively, keeping your employer brand in top shape—happy people=happy (and productive) company. Want to dive into the world of people intelligence? Consider Peoplelogic.ai. 


Peoplelogic.ai is mission control for teams, watching customer retention, employee satisfaction, and workflows within your company 24/7/365. We mitigate risks and surface opportunities for growth in real-time, so you can focus on scaling your business and staying true to your company culture. And guess what? You can get started for free.

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