Performance reviews are valuable tools for managers to assess employee progress and success in their roles.
Successful performance reviews aren’t just yearly check-ins—they’re curated conversations that strategically target key areas for growth for your team!
To ensure you get the greatest impact from your performance reviews, you need to be thoughtful about how you prepare for the reviews with your employees, how you structure the meeting, and what topics you discuss. We’ll go through some performance review tips for managers in a moment, but first, let’s go over the importance of them.
What Is a Performance Review?
A performance review is a formal check-in where managers evaluate their employees.
This typically involves:
- Reviewing goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and metrics
- Discussing how the role could change in the future, and how the employee wants to grow professionally
- Providing actionable feedback to help employees develop professionally
A manager performance review typically involves a direct, one-on-one conversation, but it can also include written assessments and surveys. Performance reviews often take place on a regular schedule, such as quarterly or annually.
What Is the Purpose of a Performance Review for Managers?
Performance reviews provide managers with a structured way to track the progress of their employees. They can look at performance assessments over time to identify patterns in employee behaviors or determine an employee’s growth over time.
Performance reviews also act as official documentation for each employee’s challenges and achievements. This makes them helpful tools for identifying top performers, determining candidates for promotions, and creating personalized career development opportunities.
How Performance Reviews Impact the Company’s Success
There are several ways that performance evaluations contribute to a company’s growth and development:
- Upholding quality standards: Conducting performance reviews helps keep each employee on track and ensures that everyone is meeting expectations for productivity, growth, and quality.
- Promoting accountability: Performance reviews encourage accountability for both managers and their team members by providing them with a designated time to check in and evaluate their progress.
- Driving engagement: Regular evaluations encourage employees to be engaged with their work by providing them with guidance, support, and feedback.
- Creating consistent goals: Managers can align employee efforts with company goals through regular check-ins where they ensure everyone is on the same page.
Useful Performance Review Tips for Managers
Managers can host impactful performance reviews that support long-term success on your team by implementing some—or all—of these tips!
Establish Clear Expectations Beforehand
In order for employees to meet performance targets, they must understand the expectations for their roles.
Well before an actual performance assessment, communicate with your employees about the goals and KPIs for their positions. What does success look like? This ensures that they understand the scope of their position and allows them to address any concerns that they may not have been aware of.
Conduct Regular Check-Ins
Annual performance reviews can help you view the big picture of each employee’s performance, but it can also be helpful to check in periodically between reviews. If employees are overwhelmed or off-track, you can use these check-ins to provide them with support and guidance. This ensures that everyone on your team has the resources they need to thrive and achieve their performance targets.
Consider the Context for Employee Performance
When assessing employee performance, make an active effort to view them in a holistic light. Consider the context for any performance issues before making any harsh evaluations.
For example, if the company sets unrealistic growth targets, keep this in mind if individual employees also fell short. If an employee had an extended leave, for example, you may want to adjust your expectations to account for their time away from the office. Being flexible and considering different contributing factors shows empathy and support for your team.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
Find a way to put a positive spin on each aspect of your performance evaluations, especially when offering criticism. While you may need to conduct some difficult conversations when evaluating employee performance, you can uphold employee morale by being positive. For example, when addressing low performance, focus on identifying contributing factors and offering potential solutions.
Be Fully Engaged
Performance reviews are valuable opportunities for employees to develop professionally, and they require your full attention and commitment. Have a plan going into each performance review so that you and your employee can get the most out of the conversation.
Stay engaged by answering any questions, listening intently, and providing thorough explanations for each of your evaluations.
Discuss Both Strengths and Weaknesses
A performance review should address all aspects of an employee’s workplace conduct. Even the most high-performing team members have areas of improvement, and low performers also have their own strengths. Make sure to both acknowledge achievements and provide constructive criticism to conduct balanced, productive assessments.
Address Long-Term Career Goals
An employee’s performance review is the ideal time to discuss their position in the company and any future goals.
- Ask about your employees’ ambitions.
- Share your perspective on their readiness to take on more responsibilities.
- Understand the career goals of each team member; doing so can help you identify future leaders and provide tailored feedback to help them achieve their goals.
Seek Multiple Perspectives
Even if you directly oversee an employee, you may not have a full picture of their performance. Seeking feedback from their other team members can help you develop a balanced understanding of their strengths and areas of improvement. If they supervise any employees, seek input from their reports and peers to learn about their aptitude for leadership and collaboration.
You can also implement self-evaluations to get the employee’s perspective on their work.
Set Goals for the Next Review Cycle
Near the end of the review, establish new objectives and goals for your employees. These could be similar to the last review cycle or focus on completely new metrics. Be clear about areas for improvement and explain the rationale for each goal.
Create an Action Plan
Collaborate with each employee to develop a plan for meeting expectations in their next review cycle. This could involve anything from simple suggestions to structured performance improvement plans. Listen to any concerns about achieving these new targets and be ready to provide resources to give your employees the greatest chance of success.
Leave Room For Questions and Comments
At the end of the performance review process (and often during), give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and clarify goals. Ask them if there’s anything they want to address that you haven’t yet mentioned. This gives employees a chance to advocate for themselves and bring up any achievements or successes that may have gone unnoticed.
Performance reviews are also a great opportunity to learn about what you can be doing better as a manager. As you assess the performance of your team members, you should also think about how you can better lead and support them. Consider providing employees with an anonymous way to share their thoughts to encourage open, honest conversation.
Performance Reviews Are Key to Growth
These performance reviews tips should be a powerful tool for managers to help drive continuous improvement on your team. Creating purposeful performance assessment processes allows you to optimize this growth and build a company culture focused on learning, innovation, and growing!
Leading a team often starts with leading yourself first. Sign up below for our free Compass workshop, Leading Yourself First, where you learn tips and tricks to making sure your team is getting the best you.
Updated November 2023