Blog Post

Manager Cheat Sheet: 8 Elements of an Employee Performance Review

“I can’t wait for my performance review!” said no one ever. Consider us your performance review architects as we walk you through the structural elements of a top-notch employee evaluation system in this blog post.Employee evaluations get a bad rap, making them challenging for managers, especially if they are new on the job. Even more of a mission is ensuring that your reviews are effective and fair across the board.

Start the Performance Review Before the Performance Review

You can’t rely on memory to assess an employee’s performance on the spot. Get a clear, impartial snapshot of each team member’s achievements by setting specific performance objectives months or weeks ahead of evaluations.

Then, analyze the results during sit-downs to see whether your employees achieved their goals. As long as you’re consistently tracking data, it’s easy to see whether a team member Todd hit the goal of increasing monthly sales from 10 new accounts to 15 by the end of Q1.

Bonus: Grab the 3 step-by-step recipes for crafting the most common types of employee objectives, including performance goals.

Ask Employees to Do Their Part

An evaluation shouldn’t feel like a visit to the dean’s office. Work with employees and engage them in the review process! Two weeks before the meeting, email your team members:

  • Notes from their past performance reviews
  • Self-review questions like “What do you love most about your current role?” and “What are your top 3 greatest achievements since your last performance evaluation?”
  • A blank list to fill in what they would like to talk about

Due date: a week before their evaluation. This gives you enough time to assess their answers and create a customized performance review agenda that makes you both happy.

Set Aside Enough Time

People may forget the details of your talks, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. Show how much you care but setting aside enough time to get through your agenda and address any additional career concerns—about 30 minutes to an hour for each review.

Split the Review 50/50

50% past and present + 50% future --> 100% awesome performance review. Great employee evaluations shouldn’t just review what’s past, they should also produce plans for improvement moving forward. Be sure to split your discussion time between the past, present, and future for a 360-degree take on performance.

Get Some Feedback of Your Own

Evaluations are a two-way street. Ask employees to help you become a better manager rather than just focusing on how they can be better team members. Where can you improve? How can you help position them for success? What’s one thing you do that makes them feel engaged? Jot down some notes.

Tip: Managers, download our New Hire Milestones Checklist to learn how to better guide new employees through their first year.

Focus on Facts, Not Feelings

If performance reviews were a bumper sticker, it would read “feelings aren’t facts.” Too often reviews are subconsciously based on impressions, meaning that someone always feels like they got the short end of the stick. A word to the wise: go with facts, not feelings.

On the surface it may seem like outgoing Joanne is a better customer service agent than introverted Tim, but if the data shows that Tim handles more calls and achieves higher customer ratings, it’s obvious that he may be the better choice for promotion.

Summarize the Main Points…

A meeting of the minds means a lot of back and forth. Use your final minutes to summarize the main points of your discussion, from the good to the constructively critical.

…and Put Them Down in Writing

Don’t let your best laid plans go awry; write down your agreed-upon strategy (including the main points from the step above) and keep a copy handy. It can ensure that you both stay on track toward common goals until your next employee evaluation.

Scheduling evaluations and setting performance objectives are particularly important for new hires. Get the New Hire Milestones Checklist to ensure that new employees have a perfect first year!


Topics: Managing People
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