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Employee Performance Review Tips

While performance reviews have received a lot of criticism in recent years, they are still integral to the success of an organization. Performance reviews can increase productivity, strengthen relationships, identify skills gaps, and identify promotion opportunities if done appropriately.

NWOW Staff
May 12, 2022
Date Published
9
Time to read
Professional development and learning
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While employee performance reviews have received plenty of backlash in recent years, they are still crucial for businesses. If done appropriately, employee performance reviews can identify skills gaps, improve employee engagement, improve team cohesion, identify promotion opportunities, improve organizational performance, and more.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t conduct performance reviews effectively, and nearly 90 percent of HR managers say the process doesn’t provide accurate results. So how can HR leaders conduct effective employee performance reviews?    

In this article, we’ll explore the employee performance review process and provide you with employee performance review tips and questions to help you conduct better performance reviews.

Table of contents

What Is an Employee Performance Review?

An employee performance review, also known as a performance appraisal or evaluation, is a formal assessment of an employee’s work performance over a specific period.

Typically, it’s usually a two-way conversation between a manager and employees, in which the manager points out the employees’ strengths and weaknesses, provides feedback, and helps employees set goals for future performance.

Meanwhile, employees participate in the performance evaluation by asking the manager questions and sharing their feedback on the manager’s views.

Effective employee performance reviews can help employees understand:

  • What their roles are
  • Areas where they’re performing well
  • Areas where they can improve

While performance appraisals have traditionally been conducted annually, more companies are opting to conduct them biannually, quarterly, monthly, or even weekly. Some companies have even completely done away with the traditional employee review process, substituting it with frequent meetups with management to discuss performance.

Nonetheless, no matter your organization’s evaluation approach, employee performance evaluations shouldn’t feel like interrogations. Instead, they should allow employees and managers to voice their concerns freely. Ultimately, they should help employees improve their performance while helping managers to achieve organizational objectives.

Why Is an Employee Performance Review Important for Business?

Employee performance reviews have received a pretty bad reputation in the last couple of years. According to a recent study, 95 percent of managers hate performance reviews. Worse still, according to another study, respondents viewed them in a more unfavorable light than cable companies, internet service providers, and health insurance companies.

Yet, Deloitte research shows that companies that conduct effective performance reviews are more likely to meet financial targets, manage change, and delight customers. Besides leading to these outcomes, here are more reasons why employee performance reviews are important:

Provide Employees With Direction

Employee performance reviews can help managers show employees how their work contributes to the company’s goals and help provide clarity about company goals.

When employees know what’s expected of them in relation to the company’s goals, they are more likely to perform their duties efficiently and improve organizational performance.

Identify Training Needs

In today’s fast-paced business environment, employees need to stay abreast of new technology, industry best practices, and new procedures. Employee performance reviews can allow managers to identify and discuss training needs with employees to help them stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their industry.

In addition, performance appraisals can help managers to identify skills gaps. For example, if performance reviews unearth that some employees are performing significantly poorly than others, the poorly performing employees can undergo training to improve their performance.

Enhance Talent Management

Employee performance reviews are an excellent way to identify top-performing employees and nurture their talent.

Performance appraisals can allow managers to pore over an employee’s past performance to assess whether the employee is ready to take on greater responsibilities.

Identifying consistently good performers can allow managers to assign top performers tasks they are particularly good at or even promote them. These actions can improve employee morale significantly.

Provide Positive Reinforcement and Encouragement  

According to a study by Gartner, the performance of top-performing employees drops when they don’t receive any feedback. Employee performance reviews can allow managers to acknowledge high-performing employees for their excellent work and boost their morale.

Performance appraisals can also allow managers to encourage employees who don’t perform well and help them identify areas they can work on to improve their performance.

Establish and Revise Goals

Company objectives may change over time. As they change, managers may need to revise employees’ goals or set new ones.

Employee performance appraisals can allow managers to go over goals with employees and revise them or establish new goals if necessary. For example, if the performance evaluation shows that employees sell a particular product more than another one, the employees may be allowed to focus on selling the product that does well, and the company may decide to stop selling the poorly-selling product.

Must-Have Elements for an Employee Performance Review

For employee reviews to be effective, they require some essential elements. Here are some must-have elements for an effective performance review:

Clearly Defined Goals

An effective employee performance appraisal should have clearly defined goals. Ideally, the goals should be SMART.

In addition, the performance appraisal should be as clear as possible. Managers should ensure employees know the purpose of the review to allay their fears and increase the effectiveness of any tools used.

The performance appraisal process shouldn’t feel like a witch-hunt meant to victimize employees. Instead, it should be completely transparent. Not only will ensuring the process is transparent allow employees to prepare for the review beforehand, but it will also force appraisers to formulate objective questions in advance.

Continuous Feedback

Managers shouldn’t condense an employee performance review into one tense session. Instead, it should be a continuous process. Not only will providing regular feedback allow employees to improve continuously, but it will also enhance team cohesion and create a harmonious work environment.

Two Way Feedback

An effective employee performance review should be a two-way process. Managers should assess employees’ performance and provide candid and specific feedback. Afterward, employees should be allowed to give managers feedback about their performance and the company’s performance.

For best results, employees should also be allowed to evaluate themselves. Employees who disagree with a manager’s performance evaluation comments should be allowed to contest decisions and get an explanation of how the manager arrived at certain decisions.

Allowing employees to self-evaluate themselves can enable managers to reevaluate their employee evaluation comments if necessary and help them to understand how the employees view their performance. At the same time, self-appraisals can also make employees accountable for their performance.

An Action Plan

Managers should note down any actions agreed upon during the appraisal process in an action plan. Actions such as a need for additional training, a raise, promotion, or disciplinary action, should be carried out as soon as possible.

Until the managers and employees implement the actions agreed upon during the performance appraisal, the evaluation process should be considered incomplete.

Employee Performance Review Tips

According to a Workhuman International Employee Survey Report, 55 percent of workers say annual performance reviews don’t improve their performance. This finding poses a huge challenge for managers who need to conduct effective employee performance reviews.

If you’re concerned about the efficacy of your performance evaluations, here are some tips on how to write a performance review:

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Managers should provide employees with clear goals and expectations that align with the company’s overall objectives. Doing so can allow them to know exactly what’s expected of them and help them carry out their duties effectively to meet organizational goals.

Document Performance Throughout the Year

While performance reviews may happen once, twice, or just a few times a year, managers shouldn’t provide performance feedback only during review periods. Instead, they should provide employees with regular feedback all year round.

Providing consistent feedback can help employees improve their performance and improve organizational performance.

Solicit Feedback

While observing an employee and checking out metrics can provide managers with invaluable insights into an employee’s performance, they may not give a comprehensive picture.

For a comprehensive picture of an employee’s performance, managers should ask for feedback from colleagues who work closely with the employee under review. Also called 360-degree feedback, doing so can enable managers to gather more detailed information about an employee’s performance. The 360-degree approach is perfect for acquiring information related to an employee’s qualitative performance in areas such as effective leadership, workplace communication, teamwork, initiative, and culture fit.

Provide Honest Feedback

No employee is flawless. While pointing out specific flaws can be difficult, managers shouldn’t hesitate to point out an employee’s flaws.

However, when pointing out flaws, managers should strive to provide employees with constructive criticism on how they can work on their weaknesses and perform their duties better.

Be Mindful of Biases  

When conducting employee performance reviews, managers should be wary of their biases. Some common biases managers should watch out for include:

  • The confirmation bias: The tendency to look out for information that confirms already held beliefs.
  • The anchoring bias: The tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information while giving subsequent information less attention.
  • The halo effect: The tendency to view everything an employee does as positive due to good performance in one area.  
  • The horn effect: The tendency to view everything an employee does as negative due to poor performance in one area.

Since these biases can cloud judgment, managers need to recognize them to ensure they give objective reviews.

Use Language Appropriately

While it may seem like a minor detail, word choice matters significantly during employee performance reviews. Managers should avoid using vague words like good, excellent, bad, or satisfactory. Instead, they should use specific and measurement-oriented language. According to Grote, action words like excels, grasps, manages, directs, possesses, and achieves are better ways to provide meaningful feedback during reviews.

Prepare for the Discussion

Performance reviews aren’t something managers can wing. Instead, managers should prepare for them to ensure they conduct a thorough review. Taking time to prepare for the process can allow managers to provide employees with comprehensive feedback that can improve their morale or encourage them to improve their performance.

Conclude on a Positive Note

No matter how dismally an employee has performed, managers should do their best to end the performance review on a positive note. For instance, if an employee has performed poorly, a manager should end with encouraging remarks to improve the employee’s morale despite the negative job appraisal.

Bonus Questions for the Performance Review

Asking the right performance review questions is pivotal to a successful review. Ideally, managers should ask questions that require deep reflection rather than questions meant to tick off checkboxes.

When formulating questions for the performance review, managers should categorize them for a comprehensive, balanced review.

Bearing that in mind, here are some performance review questions in various categories.

Questions Focused On Strengths

Questions about strengths should help managers identify tasks employees excel at and help them determine how employees’ skills and strengths can be used effectively within the organization. Some good questions to ask include:

  • What skills do you rely on most in your current position?
  • What tasks do you enjoy the most?
  • Do you have any strengths or skills you feel aren’t being utilized?
  • What projects or areas do you think your skills and strengths would add the most value?

Questions Focused On Relationships With Colleagues

For companies to thrive, employees should work together harmoniously. Questions about relationships should help managers determine whether employees get along with their co-workers and promote team cohesion. Some thoughtful questions to ask include:

  • How do you prefer to receive feedback?
  • Does your manager provide you with continuous and helpful feedback about your work performance?
  • How would you describe your relationship with your manager and teammates?
  • Has your manager implemented measures that have helped you perform your duties effectively? What are some of them?

Questions Focused on Areas of Improvement for Employees

Managers need to identify areas where there are gaps or issues that prevent employees from performing at optimum levels. Some good questions to ask include:

  • What work-related challenges did you encounter over the past year that affected your performance? How can we help you overcome these challenges?
  • Which professional skills would you like to develop in the coming period? How can we help you develop these skills?

Questions Focused on Future Growth

Most employees want to progress in their current roles. Questions about future growth can help managers to identify employees’ goals and aspirations and whether they align with the company’s objectives. Some thoughtful questions to ask include:

  • Do you feel your career goals align with the company’s goals? If not, why?
  • What are your biggest goals for the next period? How do you intend to achieve them?
  • Do you feel stagnant in your current role? If yes, what can we do to make the role more fulfilling?

While these questions aren’t an exhaustive list of all the performance review questions managers can ask, they’re a good place to start. When asking these questions, managers shouldn’t make employees feel like they’re on trial. Instead, managers should adopt a coaching mindset to make the performance review process more effective.

Summary

While performance reviews have received a lot of criticism in recent years, they are still integral to the success of an organization. Performance reviews can increase productivity, strengthen relationships, identify skills gaps, and identify promotion opportunities if done appropriately. Plus, research has shown that employee performance reviews can lower employee turnover, thus minimizing costs and boosting profitability.

By following the tips provided above, managers can get the most out of employee performance reviews and improve overall performance.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

While performance reviews have received a lot of criticism in recent years, they are still integral to the success of an organization. Performance reviews can increase productivity, strengthen relationships, identify skills gaps, and identify promotion opportunities if done appropriately.

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The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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