Do’s and don’ts to make performance reviews actually mean something

Do’s and don’ts to make performance reviews actually mean something

Everybody hates performance reviews. That’s a given. But there are ways to move them out of the “dreaded chore” category into the file titled “engagement tools.”

Performance reviews are often badly done and serve to de-motivate employees — or worse, give them a weapon to sue the company.

What’s wrong with this process? Here are the three most common mistakes managers make that limit the value of employee assessments:

1. Process vs. progress

Too often, the process of employee reviews becomes more important than the actual result. What do employees want out of their reviews? Aside from a raise, the main thing employees want to know is what career path they’re on — what they have to look forward to in terms of job growth and development.

Too many reviews omit a discussion of what advancement opportunities may be available in the near future, and what the employee needs to do to make it happen.

2. What will tomorrow’s expectations be?

Too often, reviews for well-performing employees congratulate them on what they’ve accomplished and let the story end there. For example:

An employee meets a predetermined goal of boosting production by 10%. Her manager writes in her review: “Your production was lifted by 10% and you’ve met your goal.”

While that’s true, wording it that way makes it sound like she’s reached the end of the line. Instead, the manager should say: “You lifted production by 10%, which is a great accomplishment. You should continue the progress and try to reach 15% — or even higher — next year.”

That congratulates the employee on a job well done, while reinforcing the fact that there’s always room to move forward.

3. Nix the money talk

Intertwining salary issues with performance discussions is truly taboo. Raises should always be the last thing the manager talks about — and in a separate meeting.

If pay comes up before the review is fully completed, it’s more likely employees will start arguing about the assessment instead of taking responsibility for their work. When the review is completed first, employees are more receptive to the manager’s critique.

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