7 Performance Review Tips to Improve Employee Performance

Performance management is rapidly evolving. While it’s true that the traditional, annual review is still useful, it’s not enough to keep up with the modern workplace.  The best employee performance reviews are positive experiences that motivate and drive high performance.   But creating that kind of experience is easier said than done for most managers.

Here are 7 performance review tips:

  1. Start with a Coaching Mindset

The first step toward better performance reviews is to start with a coaching mindset. Many managers are used to acting as judges or evaluators — but this isn’t the most effective approach.

Show your employee that you’re on the same team, and that you want to help them improve. Your goal should be to help employees and ultimately your organization.

  1. Talk about performance regularly

Don’t wait to offer feedback. If an issue with performance exists, address it right away.  When managers and employees only converse about performance once a year, there’s room for discomfort and anxiety. Ongoing performance conversations shift the focus forward. Managers can coach, motivate, modify behaviors, adjust goals, and recognize employees in real-time. This creates a more positive experience for managers and employees.

The annual performance review still has a place — but you need to supplement it with ongoing performance conversations.

  1. Share your notes before the review

Set everyone up for a more effective performance conversation by allowing time for preparation. Let your employee know topics or events you want to discuss, data points you want to review, questions you want answered, and anything else relevant to the employee’s performance.

  1. Listen

Remember this is a two-way conversation, so make sure you are facilitating a dialogue, and actually listening.  Be aware of emotions, ask questions, repeat what you heard, don’t be defensive and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

  1. Be Transparent

Employees should know exactly how their performance is measured. Managers and employees should have a shared understanding of what good performance looks like. Provide clarity around each employee’s role and how the organization perceives their contributions.

  1. Establish Clear Expectations and Use Examples

When giving performance feedback, be specific and share examples. Providing context empowers employees to repeat positive performance and address poor performance.

Don’t use generalizations like “always” or “never.” Even with positive feedback, the words “always” and “never” are too general and rarely helpful. Without context, an employee can’t be certain about what exactly was good about their work.

Make sure to discuss how the employee’s performance or behavior has impacted their overall performance, their team, or the organization. This additional context helps employees understand the effects of their performance — both good and bad.

  1. Define the Next Steps

Possibly the most important tip of all is to define next steps. Without clear next steps, performance conversations feel unresolved. If you want your review to actually improve performance, creating next steps is vital. Together, create a clear plan around what happens next. Set goals and deadlines and document the plan in a place you both can access.