How to prepare for and deliver effective performance reviews

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min read
January 4, 2023
January 18, 2024
Guide on how to prepare and conduct effective performance reviews
In this article

Effective performance management is all about helping employees live up to their full potential. This is achieved through setting relevant goals that are aligned to the overall aims of the business which encourage employees to develop their skills and progress within the organisation.

Performance reviews, also known as performance appraisals are a vital part of this process.  They are like pit stops, allowing both the employee and manager to take stock of the situation, review anything that needs attention and to fix anything that is going wrong. It is a chance to celebrate successes and to find ways to do things better. 

Get reviews right and they are a positive, energising experience which fills the employee with the enthusiasm and desire to reach their next set of goals. Get these wrong and they can be a completely deflating encounter, with the employee feeling like all their faults have been exposed with no drive to improve or develop.


Preparation, preparation, preparation

Key to getting performance reviews right is sound preparation. Performance reviews are important for both the employee and the manager, so they should both build time into their schedules to think about what they want to discuss – what has gone well, what could be improved and what new things could be tried. 

This preparation should include gathering feedback from those that you’ve worked closely with since your last review, both inside and outside the business. They can provide a fresh perspective, highlighting areas you might have overlooked and were not aware of. Gathering a range of opinions and insights helps to provide a fair view, helping to avoid any bias.

Give performance reviews the respect they deserve

If performance management is to be valued and appreciated, reviews must be given the status and importance they deserve. They should be treated as a priority, only to be moved if absolutely necessary. This demonstrates to employees that their development is a priority to the organisation. It also allows managers to concentrate on the people management side of their role, which is often neglected or shifted down their list of priorities

Think conversation, not monologue

With the rapid growth of hybrid working, employees are being given greater autonomy to manage their own time, choosing when and where to work. This increased flexibility requires managers to change their approach, concentrating on coaching, encouraging them to be proactive and come up with their own solutions to problems, rather than being told what to do.

This needs to be reflected in performance reviews. These should be conversations, with managers prompting employees to share their views and review what they have done well and what could be improved honestly, without fear of judgement or recriminations. The more an employee plays an active part in the discussion and feels involved, the more invested they will be in the process and motivated to reach their goals.

Tailor performance reviews to match your employees needs

Just as every organisation needs to create a performance management process that fits with their own specific needs, each review should be tailored so that the employee gets what they need out of the discussion. For example, an employee who is new to their role may want to focus on how they are settling in and what they should work on to improve, while an employee who has been in the same position for a while, may be keen to centre the review on how to progress their career.

How to guides

We know managers have a hard job, dealing with both their own work plus their people management responsibilities, especially now when they are being asked to deliver more with less. 

To help make their lives a little easier, we’ve put together two handy guides:

How to prepare for a performance review

In this guide, we detail six key areas managers should consider when planning their employee performance reviews and how they should help their employees to do their own preparation.

How to conduct an effective performance review

This guide is designed to assist managers deliver positive, constructive and meaningful performance reviews, that help employees develop through a useful list of dos and don’ts.

If you’re considering a new performance management system to help support better performance reviews, talk to one of our experts.

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