Performance reviews: How to get the best out of your people


Date: 11 April 2022

The annual performance review is often dismissed as just a painful tick-box exercise. Managers and employees complain it’s pointless and time-consuming and does more harm than good. Performance reviews may not be perfect. However, often it’s the execution rather than the process that’s at fault. Here we share some best practice tips to ensure your performance reviews get the best out of your people.

Performance review tips


It’s not rocket science. We all know the more you put into a task, the better the outcome. So, be sure to clear space in your diary to prepare in advance. Managers need time to think about the employee’s performance and strengths and weaknesses. Equally, employees need space to prepare a self-evaluation and any feedback they want to share.

Identify relevant examples

This tip applies to both managers and employees. Whether discussing areas for improvement or tasks that have gone well, back up your assessment with real examples. Doing so brings the performance review to life, making it more relevant and relatable.

Keep it informal

Take some of the anxiety out of the process by carefully selecting a venue. Sitting across a desk can be stuffy and too formal. And it doesn't support the open dialogue that underpins effective appraisals. Instead, think about hosting the review off-site in a quiet café. Or use the comfy sofas in your company’s breakout room.

Provide real-time feedback

Best practice companies are moving away from the annual appraisal to continuous feedback. In quarterly, monthly, or even weekly sessions, managers coach in the moment. They can quickly identify roadblocks, offer support and provide the resources and training staff need. For employees, continuous feedback means there are no nasty surprises. It helps forge stronger, more supportive relationships between management and the workforce.

Set measurable, achievable goals

Setting short and long-term goals is at the heart of every performance review. Make sure yours are specific, measurable, and attainable. Managers and staff should mutually agree on targets. That way, workers are more invested in the process and understand what’s expected. Progress is then easily tracked during regular feedback sessions.

Choose your words carefully

When it comes to writing up the performance review, try to use meaningful, measurement-oriented words. Rather than saying performance is ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’ consider using ‘excels’, ‘demonstrates’, or ‘generates’. These words highlight more effectively a worker’s contribution. And if you are still struggling to find the right words, check out these performance review examples for inspiration.

Performance reviews: The benefits

Still undecided about the value of performance reviews? We finish up with a reminder of the benefits a collaborative and supportive appraisal can deliver.

  • Increased workforce productivity, engagement and retention
  • Better overall business outcomes
  • Improved accountability
  • Sharper focus on results with clearer expectations
  • A personalized process that supports stronger manager-employee relationships.

Final thoughts

The impact of the Great Resignation is being felt in industries worldwide where it hurts the most – company profits. Decreased productivity plus increased recruitment and onboarding costs are affecting the bottom line.

Supporting and developing your people with more effective performance reviews is one crucial way to ride out the storm. Use these best practice tips to do just that in your business.

Copyright 2022. Article made possible by site supporter Mike McMinn

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