Category Archives: Performance Reviews

Performance Reviews Are Coming: 5 Ways to More Value

2014 Review Score ImageAs the office holiday parties roll on, and wishes for happy holidays and the new year are shared, that can only mean one thing. Year-end performance reviews are just a calendar page away for many companies. Just like last year, it’s possible that you and your team look forward to them for only one reason: the money that comes from bonuses and merit increases.

Shouldn’t there be more to it, though? Shouldn’t there be some lasting value from the time invested in writing and delivering them? The answer, obviously, is yes. Last year at about this time, we shared some ideas on making the process better. Here are some others that can make this a performance-enhancing time, rather than just a performance-reviewing one.

Allow Time. Do you give your team enough time to prepare their self-review section? Do they even do one? Many workplaces (outside of retail, delivery services, travel and other seasonal industries) experience a little downtime during December. Encourage your team to reflect on the year now while there is some time to think before the January 2nd resumption of regular business rhythm.

Expect Specifics. If you are not doing this already, improve your review process by including a conversation and documentation about specific performance metrics from the year. Encourage your team members to review their own scorecards, dashboards and other reports as they evaluate themselves. The slower weeks in December can be a good time to pull that information.

Have Balance. While numbers are important in every business, there are also some intangibles that should be part of the conversation. These might include exemplifying company values, volunteerism and corporate social responsibility efforts, developing and mentoring others, and representing the brand.

Look Forward. Reviews are helpful in recording past results, and provide an opportunity to celebrate victories, thank employees for their efforts, and challenge them to improve. Be sure to include a look toward the future so progress in key results areas continues. See our related SMART goals story for more about this.

Collaborate on Goals. Nobody likes a goal given to them. Consider using a coaching approach to ask your employee about the goals she or he would like to set, and how it will be done. If you and your organization are clear communicators of mission and overall strategy, a competent employee should be able to articulate at least some goals for herself. Encourage and allow it to happen.

Reviews do not have to be drudgery. Instead, they can be valuable and contribute to improved performance. Work on it now and your annual review process can be an important part of your overall performance and talent development program.


Learning Dynamics offers several customizable programs to help managers be more effective at giving performance feedback. Learn about Honest Appraisal™ and other programs at our Programs page

Performance Reviews: 3 Tips for Better Impact

Annual performance reviews don’t get a lot of respect. In many cases, managers don’t like writing them, employees don’t like receiving them, and for many, the whole process is seen as the hurdle standing in the way of bonuses and salary increases. It doesn’t have to be this way!

A November 2013 article in BusinessWeek shares some stark statistics that illustrate just how bad it is. The story cites a 1997 survey showing a mere 5% approval rating among employees about their company’s process. A 2010 survey of HR managers – the people who run the review programs – said that 58% don’t like what they have going on in their own organizations.

The biggest problem, and something that we teach our clients to avoid, is the infrequent nature of reviews. Performance reviews need to happen more than once a year, and the content and nature of them should never surprise an employee. An annual “gotcha!”? No thanks!

Which of these scenarios sounds closest to the review culture at your company?

A. Reviews are a formality that we must complete to give raises.
B. Our reviews really just document performance shortfalls to justify smaller increases or no increases at all.
C. Reviews celebrate success, set engaging goals for the new year, and energize the organization.

If you answered something other than C, your organization could be getting more out of the annual ritual. Here are some ideas.

  1. Rather than a once year, create a more frequent schedule of performance reviews. Consider quarterly at a minimum, or even monthly, feedback. Once you create a plan, stick to it. Your team will come to expect and value regular discussions.
  2. Balance positive feedback with constructive, actionable criticism (if appropriate).
  3. Create a safe, collaborative culture around your regular review sessions. Nobody wants a monthly beat-up session. Nearly everyone wants to know where they stand and to have the opportunity to discuss their accomplishments and goals.

If your performance review process isn’t helping, it’s probably hurting. No organization has the luxury of wasting time on valueless activities. Make the effort useful, or maybe don’t do it at all.

These are some of the points that Learning Dynamics teaches in its Honest Appraisal™ training sessions. Let us know if we can help your organization get more out of your review process.