performance reviews

performance reviewsPerformance reviews are not exactly a beloved HR practice by employer or employee. It’s not easy for employees to hear feedback, especially if negative, and it’s not always easy for employers to give feedback. But let’s be real – it’s not the employee’s job to make performance reviews more pleasant – that is up to the employer.

Here are some things employers can do to make performance reviews a little more palatable to both themselves and their employees.

Before the review:

  1. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them. It’s impossible to evaluate an employee based on goals that the employee never knew about. And it’s not enough to talk about these goals during the hiring process, especially if the employee has a fair amount of autonomy. If you expect something from an employee, you need to tell them throughout their job, not just during their performance review.
  2. Make sure you have a way of evaluating performance. It should not be based on how much you like the employee’s personality and how well you carry a conversation together – you should have some sort of unbiased measuring tool, whether it’s a list of criteria, questions or a basic review form. You should also share with your employees your method for evaluation, which will help them be part of the process and understand where your feedback is coming from.
  3. Never go into performance reviews and expect to wing it – no one will benefit that way. Instead, before each individual review, go over the individual employee’s tasks, responsibilities, review their HR file and jot down any comments that you want to make sure to discuss.


During the review:

  1. Set a goal for the meeting. The goal of the meeting isn’t to pore over the minutiae of your employee’s performance and take them to task on every detail. Rather, the review should cover overall performance, which can include discussing strengths and weaknesses, aspirations, challenges and plans for the future. If you have a specific goal in mind, make sure to share it with your employee – that way, you will both be on the same page.
  2. Don’t focus only on the negative. This can be extremely demotivating, the opposite of the goal you set in step #4, right? If you do have negative feedback to give, you can, but in order for it to be heard and appreciated, it should be couched between lots of positive feedback, encouragement and motivation. If you really only have negative feedback to give to an employee, then it becomes a question for you as to whether you want to keep them on or not.
  3. Create an actionable plan. When you just give criticism with no plan for improvement, it can be very discouraging. Instead, if you have criticism to give, make sure it always comes along with some sort of action that your employee can implement. And if you really want to help your employee, take on some of the onus and set actionable goals for yourself as well.


Employers also find it helpful to hold mini-reviews throughout the year. That way, an annual review won’t be the only time you come fully face-to-face with employees, and nothing they say will shock or surprise you. Holding regular meetings is also a good way to create a comfortable company culture and to keep abreast of employee satisfaction.

If you would like any further assistance in how to conduct performance reviews or any other management issues, feel free to contact Corporate Financial.