How to get the most out of Performance Reviews


How to get the most out of Performance Reviews

For many businesses the end of financial year is fast approaching and it can be a busy time for performance and salary reviews. The process can be time consuming for employers.  Many managers I speak to feel stressed and challenged by the conversations that need to be had! What can you do to ensure you and your employees get the most out of the process?

Make sure your employees have a clear idea of what is expected of them

It sounds obvious doesn’t it? but many of the employees I see who are underperformin have never had a proper position description or clear KPIs for their role.

Your employees should have goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), that are connected to those of the business. Have regular discussions with your employees about what the business is trying to achieve so that they have a context and understanding of what their contribution is. All employees enjoy feeling a part of something.

Make sure that they also understand how you are going to assess whether they have met their KPI’s. Employees will often be focused on the quantitative measures of their performance – whether they reached a financial target, or completed a project by deadline. As their manager you will probably be interested not just in ‘what’ they achieved but ‘how’ they got there – did they communicate well with the rest of the team? Were they proactive in responding to customers? Were they focused on finding solutions to tricky problems? If these ‘how’ pointers are important in their assessment, let them know.

There should be no surprises at review time

There can be a lot of expectation around the performance review process and in some organisations, it becomes a once a year catch – all discussion of everything related to that person’s role and then there is no further discussion until the following year! If you are providing your employees with regular, constructive feedback about the things they are doing well (and not so well), there should be no big surprises at review time.

Be prepared

Before you meet with each employee you should have reviewed their KPIs and considered whether they have met them and where they have fallen short. Be prepared to give specific examples of times their performance has not been to the standard required and the things that need improvement. It can also be helpful to explain what a better approach or outcome would have been.

Whether you have a formal performance review process or you simply conduct a discussion with everyone which is then documented, you owe it to each employee to give them the time and head space to have an open and meaningful discussion. Block out your diary and turn off your phone!

Make sure you fully document the conversation. Provide a copy to the employee and keep a copy on file to revisit later. This is particularly important in the case of under-performers when you may be relying on those documents as part of a formal performance management process later.

Every employee needs a performance review

It can be easy to assume that the employees who are performing well don’t need a performance review. Wrong! All of us like to hear what we are doing well and for your high performers the conversation may be around finding additional challenges or new opportunities to keep them engaged.

The process is not about you but you can learn from it too

The performance review process is a good opportunity for you to get some feedback from your employee about your management style. Are they feeling adequately supported? Do they need more or less interaction with you? How could you help them more? Be open to the possibility that you may be playing a part in any problems they are having.

Is there any issue you find challenging to deal with in the Performance Review process? HR Central would be happy to help. You can contact us at


Sarah Tidey

Sarah Tidey is a former lawyer who specialises in HR and workplace dispute resolution.

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