The New and Improved Performance Review: Seven Tips for Success

Olivia TrompetaBlog, HR Management, HR Topics, Payroll Services0 Comments

Seven Tips for Powerful Performance Management

In a recent Adobe study, 80% of employees said they prefer immediate feedback rather than annual reviews. And, in response to this, many companies are rethinking performance management, ditching the scary and ineffective “annual review” and moving towards more frequent and casual methods of measuring and communicating an employee’s performance. 

While it may seem tempting to ditch performance reviews entirely, companies who initiate frequent feedback and communication with their employees find increased productivity, greater employee retention and happiness, and overall have less performance errors. 

Employee performance reviews reflect much more than counseling exercises. They are part of a bigger, more strategic picture. If your company is hoping to gain more from your performance management, it may be time to rethink your process. In doing so, keep these seven tips in mind:

1. Be Consistent & Constructive

Constructive criticism is a valuable tool to fuel the employee’s and the company’s success. Constructive criticism should be given from the employee and from the employer so that there is a better understanding of how each can support the other. It is also easier to phrase improvement suggestions once they are recognized for what they are doing well.

Every company/organization has different needs and sizes, however, consistency is key when implementing performance reviews. 70% of employees feel more valued when there are more consistent performance reviews. Provide more frequent evaluations of newly hired or transferred employees as well those with individual development plans. The timing of evaluations can depend on the nature of the jobs, business operations, and types of goals; a regular schedule needs to be in place. Your company/organization’s performance reviews may differ based on the company size, etc. Here are some performance overviews to consider:

  • Basic Overview: Reviews annually, where an employee’s work doesn’t change frequently and is a good starting point if your company has never done a performance review before. 
  • Prime Overview: Reviews semi-annually, where the company has a clearly defined mission, vision, and core values. The company has a strong culture of feedback and likes conversations between managers and employees.
  • Freeform Overview: Reviews quarterly, where an employee’s role or their responsibilities are not stagnant, and if an employee’s work is project-based.
  • Informal Overview: Ongoing reviews throughout the year, where structured performance management has not yielded results in the past. Works well when companies are very dedicated to continuous conversation surrounding performance and will not let the lack of a set timeline lead to neglect of employee feedback.

 A good performance appraisal system can provide a very small foundation for decisions on promotions, development, and terminations.

2. Personalizing & Customizing a Performance Evaluation Form

A performance evaluation form can help guide the conversation and establish goals an employee wants to achieve until the next performance review. Having an accurate and detailed job description helps in customizing a performance evaluation form. Our software, Share & Perform helps make your own performance evaluation form to suit your company needs. The form includes specific references to each function of the employee’s job as well as the ability to rate and comment on the observed performance.

Furthermore, the evaluation should reflect the relative priorities and importance of the skills and responsibilities involved in the job description. For example, which function has more importance for a Senior Accountant – general ledger account analysis or presentation skills? Consider how much value or weight a certain job function may have over another in determining overall performance. 

3. Every Action Counts Towards the Company’s Success

Have a discussion with your employees about what’s happening in the company, where it’s going, and what their place is within it. Ask them about where they see the company going and how they’d like to contribute to its success. Let this discussion be the basis for an action plan. 

In addition, you can gather individual performance information to assess how a particular team has been performing and how to remedy any deficiencies. You may find a certain team lagging in responsiveness and productivity simply because it was inadvertently not included in critical email distribution. 

4. Understand how Legal HR Issues Play a Part in Performance Review Meetings

When facing a potential problem with an employee’s performance, you’ll want to know your legal HR responsibilities. How you handle a performance issue could be the difference between an individual’s success and the business getting slammed with a discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit. For example, if you have concerns about a receptionist’s rapidly declining typing skills, it could be attributed to a potential disability for which you may need to provide reasonable accommodations under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Following your company’s written HR policies appropriately is another key strategy. What does your employee handbook state about the performance evaluation process? How does it address individual development plans or disciplinary actions regarding poor employee performance? How does it address the employee’s ability to appeal his or her performance appraisal to a higher management level? If your employee handbook needs improvements or does not have these answers, DP Boost can help!

5. Directly Address Employee Issues.

Sometimes perfectly valid reasons may lead to an employee’s poor performance. For instance, an employee’s lack of focus may be due to a family member being ill and requiring extra care. Engage in open and direct communications with employees regularly and often so that you can understand changes in performance. Managers naturally have a difficult approach. By being proactive you can remove this barrier and help employees work through their work-related concerns. By the time the “formal” performance review meeting arrives, few if any surprises should exist.

6. Empower the Employee to Improve.

If the employee wants to improve, then ask him or her to create an action plan. Although it remains important to help when needed, the best action plans are those created by the employee. So, give him or her full ownership. Challenge them to grow, not only by addressing their limitations but also by coaching them on their strengths. With Share & Perform, you and your employees can help create and track goals to ensure everyone is on the same page (or heading in the right direction). If you get your employees involved, grant them the freedom to be themselves, and recognize their achievements, you’ll find your organization thriving and ready to take on the future.­

If the employee denies a problem exists or becomes noticeably aggravated, then ask the person to take some time (even time off from work, if necessary) to figure out the next step. This gesture communicates that the performance issue is serious. If the employee appears genuine and enthusiastic but needs extra training and guidance, then you have at least something to work with.

7. Follow up, Follow up, and Follow up.

Monitoring and measuring your employees regularly is crucial. If you and the employee have agreed upon steps the employee will take to improve his or her performance, it is critical that you follow up on those commitments. This can be done informally or formally. Either way, you send the employee a message that the expectations are being taken seriously and that you are investing in the employee’s professional growth. Also, if an employee performs exceptionally well, makes a significant improvement, or adds an unexpected contribution, be sure to recognize and reward accordingly. Doing so will go a long way towards paving long-term efforts to improve.

Using technology to communicate with your employees is a convenient and easy way to follow up with them. Consider having an internal social media platform where employees can communicate with one another and with you. It can be a space for conducting business, sharing ideas, and even socializing. Encourage your employees to take the lead in using this technology to build community in the office.

In your follow-ups, coach them along the way so you and the employee will see the results everyone wants. Read “Three Tips for Effective Coaching” to learn more.


By implementing an effective performance review process, your business can achieve several positives, including better employee productivity, performance, relations, and communication. With a sound evaluation process in place, your employees will know what is expected of them, how to achieve certain goals, and why they will make a real difference to the future of the business.

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