How to Conduct a Successful Employee Performance Review


Did you know that only 14 percent of employees strongly agree that their performance reviews inspire them to improve? 

These days, few people enjoy giving or getting employee performance reviews. For many, they are a dreaded annual headache, and then there is the knowledge that they can change your life in an instant.

At the same time, many employers ignore the performance review (or conduct them badly) and wonder why ‘their’ people aren’t performing at their best. It’s important to know how to give a performance evaluation that your employees look forward to instead of dreading.

Keep reading to learn how to inspire change with your employee evaluation. 

The Performance Review Process

The performance review process is not a simple one to master. It’s a meeting that can be a stressful, emotional rollercoaster for both you and the person you are giving feedback to.

It’s important that you make your performance review a positive one for your employee, whether you are giving or receiving feedback. The goal of the performance review is to give helpful, constructive feedback.

Create a Positive Experience

Creating a positive experience for the employee requires planning. If you are giving feedback, make sure you make the time to prepare a list of issues to be covered.

Include things that you have both agreed would be discussed, as well as things you would like to ask in the meeting. Arrange for a quiet place where you can meet without interruption.

Arrange for plenty of time to cover all points. If you have other employees being reviewed at the same time, try to make sure that no one gets left behind due to a time shortage.

When the employee arrives, greet them with a smile, and thank them for coming to discuss their performance.

Begin the Meeting

Begin the meeting by showing your appreciation to the person you are evaluating. Let them know that you are grateful for their work contributions.

If the employee is on target with their performance or has done something that deserves recognition, this is the time to let them know. Doing so will help focus their attention on the positive and make the meeting more enjoyable.

The Meeting

As you know, the performance review is not a place for counseling. Don’t use it as a platform to tell the employee how you think they should go about their business.

The performance review, however, is a place for constructive feedback. It’s a place to offer your opinions about how the employee can go that extra mile.

It’s not a time to be overly critical of their work; this may cause the employee to get defensive and shut down. Instead, aim to help the employee learn from their mistakes and to improve their performance.

Setting Goals

One of the best parts of the performance review is the opportunity to set goals for the future. To do this, you need to sit down with the employee beforehand and discuss their ideal career path.

Set several goals in line with the employee’s career path. Make sure these goals are in line with what your company is looking for; these goals need to reflect company needs as well as the employee’s career needs.

For example, if your company is looking for someone who can make cold calls to generate new business, this goal needs to be considered in all employee performance reviews.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the performance review, thank the employee for coming and for the work that they have done. You might want to ask them if there is anything that you can do to help in the future.

Follow up

You should follow up with the employee shortly after the performance review. Let them know that you are grateful that they came in to discuss their performance.

Let them know how you can help them in the future. Discuss the goals that you have set for the employee, and let them know if there is any additional information that you need from them.

This can be with regards to their performance or just additional information that will be helpful.

How Often Should Employee Performance Reviews Take Place?

Many companies make the mistake of only reviewing employee performance once a year. This can have a severely negative effect on the employee, as they may feel as though their performance is not being monitored.

It can also have a bad effect on your business if the employee’s performance isn’t being monitored and they are allowed to stay in that position for too long. It’s a good idea to conduct an employee performance review quarterly.

This will allow you to adjust their goals if needed, and it will also help you to correct any issues that are occurring. In addition, an employee performance evaluation should be an ongoing part of your employee onboarding plan.

You can easily manage these using employee onboarding software modernized for today’s workplace.

Employee Performance Review Best Practices

How do you conduct an employee review that doesn’t leave everyone feeling worse? The following are some of the best practices that you can follow when conducting an employee performance review.

Keep It Professional

Keep the employee performance review professional. The point of the meeting is to discuss the employee’s performance in a business-like manner. Don’t discuss personal issues or other topics that are not related to their performance.

Be Friendly

Keep the conversation professional but also friendly. Don’t be harsh or overly critical.

Remember that the employees are people, too. While the employee performance review is a business-like conversation, you don’t want to make them feel as though they are being attacked.

Prepare Before the Meeting

Once you have decided when the employee performance review will take place, make sure that you are prepared ahead of time. Make sure that you have gathered up any information that you will need, such as the goals that you have set and the goals that the employee set for themselves.

Once you are prepared for the meeting, you can feel more confident, and you will be able to pay attention to the employee without having to collect any data during the meeting.

Provide Concrete Examples

When discussing the employee’s performance, provide concrete examples of things that they are doing well. This will help to keep the meeting positive, and it will also allow the employee to learn what they are doing right. By providing examples of their positive work, you can let the employee know what they can do to improve their performance.

Collaborate to Set SMART Goals

When setting SMART goals with the employee, it’s important to find a common ground. Ask them what they would like to accomplish, and then discuss how to set SMART goals that meet both of your needs.

Tell them what you want them to work on, and also ask them what they want to work on. When coming up with a goal, make sure that it is SMART:


The goal needs to be specific so that the employee will know what needs to be worked on. If you want the employee to work on their productivity, tell them exactly how you want them to work on their productivity.


Make sure that the goal is measurable. This will allow the employee to see how close they are to completing their goals, or it will allow you to see how successful they have been.


The goal should be achievable. Don’t set a goal that is too difficult or impossible to complete. This can be discouraging and can lead to failure.


The goal needs to be relevant. What this means is that the goal needs to be something that the employee is capable of accomplishing. You don’t want to set a goal that is beyond their abilities.


The goal needs to be set on a deadline. Make sure that you set a time frame so that the goal will be finished by a certain time.

After you set the goals, it’s important to discuss how you want the employee to work on their goals. If possible, the employee should work on their goals independently. If they need help, then let them know how you can help them.

Be Clear

Always be clear and concise. Make sure that they know exactly what you want from them.

If you want them to work on improving their productivity, be sure to tell them how you want them to accomplish this. If you want them to work on improving their customer service skills, tell them what these skills are so that they can learn how to improve in the future.

Hold Regular One-on-One Meetings with Each Team Member

Make sure that you set aside at least fifteen minutes each week to talk to each employee individually. This is a good way to discuss their goals and to see how they are doing.

Use the fifteen minutes wisely. Plan your meeting so that you don’t waste time. Make sure that you only discuss what needs to be discussed, which means that you should have a plan of action prior to the meeting.

During the meeting, don’t ask questions that have already been answered. Make sure that you ask questions that pertain to their goals and the topic at hand.

Put Performance Requirements in Your Employee Handbook

In your employee handbook, make sure that you have a section where you can detail the performance requirements. This is where you can discuss the goals that you want to achieve with each employee.

Make sure that you give the employee a copy of their handbook. A handbook is a great way to keep your team on track and keep them updated on changes in the workplace.

Have the Right Attitude

You need to have the right attitude when you are dealing with the performance review process. If you don’t have the right attitude, you will not be able to work well with the employee, and you will not be able to figure out a motivational approach.

Make sure that you are empathetic. Empathize with the employee and be sure to understand them and their needs.

Understand that many employees don’t look forward to this process. Find out why and create a new culture of growth and use your reviews as part of this culture.

When you are in a one-on-one meeting with an employee, try to understand what their needs are. Try to understand their goals, as well as trying to understand what they think they can offer to the company.

Make Sure It’s a Two-Way Conversation

When you are having a meeting with an employee, make sure that it’s a two-way conversation. Make sure that you are listening to what the employee is saying, and try to discuss more of what they have to say. This will help to motivate the employee and show them that you care about their ideas.

Be Transparent

Be transparent when dealing with an employee during a performance review meeting. Don’t just talk about the issues, but also talk about their solutions.

In addition, talk about areas where you can improve and where you need to be better. Be sure to explain your reasoning behind the employee’s performance.

Be Future Focused

When you are giving a performance review to an employee, try to focus on the future and not on the past. This is a time to encourage the employee and motivate them to work harder and grow.

During the performance review, you need to set goals with the employee. Take a look at their strengths and weaknesses and then set new goals with them. To get the most out of the performance review meeting, make sure that you are future-focused.

Stop Using the Compliment Sandwich

When you are giving a performance review to an employee, don’t use the compliment sandwich approach. This approach can be seen as a manipulative way to give a performance review. Reviews that are done this way aren’t as sincere, and you can’t be completely honest.

Conduct a Successful Employee Performance Review

An employee performance review shouldn’t be a process you and your employees dread. Take the time to plan out the review and make it about growth, not about criticism.  Was this article helpful? Keep learning how to improve your company with more articles on our website.

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