Stepping Up Your Performance Review Process - You Need To Read This First

Aug 03, 20224 mins
What is a Performance Review?

Whether you are a manager conducting a performance review or an employee undertaking it, it is one of the most dreaded management practices. It is because managers have to evaluate each team member's performance and review it on a one-on-one basis. Moreover, people may not be excited about their performance being analyzed and discussed.

Regardless of how difficult it is for people, a performance review is necessary not only to decide on compensation and promotions and to know how people are carrying out their work.

Before delving into the types of performance reviews, first, let’s look at what a performance review is.

What is a Performance Review?

Simply put, a performance review is a process used to evaluate the employee's work and discuss their assessment. The follow-ups may be conducted quarterly or monthly, depending on the organization’s requirements.

Types of Performance Review

Also known as performance appraisals or assessments, these can be formal or informal, depending on your organization’s size, industry, and policies. Here are some of the standard formats of these assessments:

Self Appraisal: As the name suggests, this is the process where employees assess their performance.

Peer to Peer Review: In a peer review, the manager does not rely on their judgment alone but also considers what the employee’s teammates have to say about them.

360 Degree Appraisal: This appraisal focuses on providing performance feedback to the employee from different sources such as colleagues, managers, and supervisors.

Continuous Feedback: This strategy complements performance appraisals. It encourages regular feedback between a manager, an employee, and peers.

Management by Objectives (MBO): It is a review method in which an employee’s performance is evaluated against quantifiable objectives.

Importance of Performance Review

A performance review is a great way to assess an employee's work and provide constructive feedback. According to a survey, 68% of employees feel satisfied with their jobs if they are provided consistent feedback.

As employees know the areas of improvement, they understand what to focus on to improve their performance. 

When a vacancy arises, performance evaluation helps in deciding who can be tapped for promotion. Sometimes, managers need not hire talent from outside but can promote people who have performed exceptionally.

Also, it allows acknowledging employees' achievements, thereby boosting their morale. Providing incentives based on the review encourages the employee to perform well and increases engagement.

Workplace learning is an ongoing process, and performance reviews provide the opportunity to train and up-skill employees and make them a valuable asset to the company.

What Does a Performance Review Look Like?

Generally, the performance reviews will assess your communication skills, problem-solving approach, teamwork, work quality, and ability to meet targets.

Different organizations have their templates for grading these components. You would have a grading system based on the alphabet, number, or percentage. It is crucial to ensure that the information is easy to read, clear, and concise.

How to Prepare for a Performance Review

Preparation for the Meeting

Here are a few steps that will help you prepare for the performance review meeting

  • Share the meeting agenda with the employee so that they know what will be discussed. Employees can review this agenda and add topics they want to discuss. 

  • Arrange everything in advance for the meeting. The key is to make the conversation more impactful by referencing employee data.

Also, it is essential to maintain a performance record throughout the year so that you don’t base the evaluation on recent events. 

Here is a list of must-haves that you should have before the start of the meeting:

  • The performance review document

  • Notes about the employee’s performance

  • 360-degree feedback from the peers and supervisors

  • Customer feedback

  • Previous performance conversations

  • Responses to engagement surveys

  • SWOT Analysis 

Apart from arranging the relevant documentation, you should choose an appropriate place for the meeting as your office may not be the ideal place where you sit behind the desk. 

You can schedule a time for the meeting that is most convenient for the employee. Setting aside 45 to 60 minutes for the meeting is a good idea as it gives sufficient time to discuss all the points in detail.

Steps to Conduct the Performance Review Meeting

Managers need to make the performance evaluation a smooth and comfortable experience for the employee. Here are some steps to conduct a successful performance appraisal:

Step 1: Reiterate the Goals of the Meeting

Although you may have sent the agenda beforehand, it is good to put things in perspective by mentioning the goals of the meeting and the different aspects that will be covered.

Step 2: Mention the Employee’s Achievements

One of the reasons for holding a performance review meeting is to appreciate the employee for what they have done in the past year. Be it achieving targets, developing innovative solutions, or achieving high levels of customer satisfaction, this meeting is an opportunity to recognize the positive outcomes and it also helps start the meeting on a good note. 

Step 3: Define Expectations and Performance Evaluation Criteria

Let the employee know the results, actions, and behaviors that were expected from them. Also, explain the different parameters that will be used to evaluate their performance such as quality of work, productivity level, goals, and targets accomplished, and the initiatives taken by the individual.

Step 4: Review the Past but Focus on the Future

The conventional reviews had no place for future discussions and involved evaluating past performance. However, the modern process focuses on future goals and the necessary tools and guidance to achieve them. It helps in fostering a culture of growth.

So, as a leader, you should take the time to identify the gaps in skills and discuss skill development with an employee. It will help increase engagement and retention rates as more opportunities will ensure that employees do not feel stagnant in their jobs.

Rather than dwelling too much on past mistakes, this meeting should also be taken as an opportunity to identify how employees can be more valuable to the organization.

Step 5: Reiterate the Future Course of Action at the end of the Meeting

Wrap up the conversation by defining the next steps that the employee has to take. Create a plan of action so that the employee has clarity on implementing the feedback. 

How to Craft a Performance Review Template 

A performance review template is instrumental in assessing the employees' performance objectively. It helps managers identify the areas where an individual needs improvement and their strengths and talents that can be harnessed for the growth of the employee and the organization.

Here are the items that a performance review template must include:

  • Employee information such as name, ID number, and position

  • Reviewer’s name and position

  • Review timeframe that includes the period for which the assessment is taking place (whether it is monthly in case of continuous feedback, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. It should also mention the specific date on which the review took place. All these date references help in tracking the progress of the employee over a period of time. 

  • SMART Goals that provide clarity on expectations and the perceivable challenges. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. This technique is instrumental in defining the performance objectives so that there is no ambiguity regarding what needs to be achieved during a specific time frame. 

  • Rating systems that are used to indicate the employee's performance and achievements. As mentioned, these may be alphabetic, numeric, percentage, or narrative. For instance, the scale may contain ratings such as ‘acceptable,’ ‘effective’, or ‘very effective’.

It is crucial to define each standard clearly so that both the manager and the         employee know its meaning. Moreover, you should know how to differentiate a ‘4’ from a ‘5’ when it comes to numeric scales.

Performance Review Examples 

Here are examples of performance reviews, including excellent, satisfactory, and poor performance.

Excellent Performance Review Example

John’s performance has been above par this year in his role as a systems engineer. He significantly exceeds expectations by providing high-quality work. He also produces timely results, and that too with minimum error. 
John takes the initiative and develops new strategies to improve the projects and the company's performance. 

Satisfactory  Performance Review Example

Shiela regularly meets expectations in her role as a customer support specialist. She achieves the annual goals consistently. She seeks help from her co-workers when facing a challenging question rather than providing a wrong answer. 

Shiela receives positive feedback from customers. She should make more attempts to follow up with the customers and ensure they have a positive experience. 

Poor Performance Review Example

Sasha’s work is below expectations in her role as a receptionist. She finds it challenging to organize and handle activities. She doesn’t get along with colleagues and fails to make timely decisions. Her communication skills are good, and she conveys timely information to her manager.

Here are a few performance review examples and templates for your reference:

21 Engaging Performance Review Examples [+ Tips From an HR Manager]

4 Examples Of Performance Reviews That Inspire Greatness

100 Useful Performance Review Phrases

70+ free employee performance review templates – Word, PDF, & Excel

FREE 8+ Performance Review Samples in PDF | MS Word

Tips to Implement Performance Review

Suppose you are looking forward to implementing employee performance reviews in your organization. In that case, you should seek help from the human resources team. Based on their feedback, you can decide which type of performance review system would work for your organization. 


Here are a few valuable tips for successful implementation:

  • Performance reviews are generally dreaded because of the questions that come your way. The traditional reviews included so many questions that the good ones seemed to get lost. So, limiting the number of questions and asking questions that elicit insightful responses is the key. It is good to keep in mind the purpose of asking the question and remain as direct and objective as possible to make the question understood. 

  • Unlike past performance reviews, today's appraisals are a two-way conversation. As the employees are encouraged to discuss topics related to their performance, the manager should practice active listening. Try to respond to the person in a manner that will enable them to speak their mind.

  • It is not easy to give feedback to someone, especially if it is negative. However, the choice of words and the tone of voice play an essential role. Pay attention to what you are trying to convey before speaking. 

  • Avoid criticizing a person’s personality; provide feedback about their actions. So, discuss the specifics of someone’s work rather than personalizing. For instance, rather than telling an employee,  “You’re so slow,” you can mention a specific example during projects where the employee took longer to complete the work and suggest ways to improve their speed.

  • Do not use vague terms or cliches as they do not convey anything important. For instance, simply telling a person to “think outside the box” without providing guidance creates confusion and frustration.

  • Another good practice is to avoid absolutes such as ‘never’ or ‘always’ because they can be hurtful. Rather than saying, “You are never on time,” it is better to be objective with your feedback and say, “You were late to work thrice last month.” 

  • Ensure that the employees are involved in creating performance reviews and take their input on the performance management process

  • Conduct training for managers, supervisors, and employees on how to use the performance appraisal system. Everyone should be aware of what is being measured and how.

  • Organize a meeting to let everyone know the benefits of the performance review and take questions on the program.

  • Convey the period of review and how the performance meetings will be held so that employees are prepared

  • Ensure that the performance review process lays down the expectations and the improvement areas.


  • Do not make performance review a one-way street where the manager judges an individual and provides feedback. Instead, encourage the employee to speak up about performance issues and seek clarity on expectations.

  • Don’t limit the review process to an event to decide an employee’s compensation. Although money is the most important motivating factor, a performance review also identifies training opportunities for the overall growth of the employee and helps in employee satisfaction and retention. 

  • Don’t make it a once-in-a-year meeting but provide timely feedback to the employees, so they know what is working for them and what isn’t.

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