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Manager's Guide to Performance Reviews

Posted by Guest Post on Jul 1, 2022 10:00:00 AM

manager conducting employee review

Performance reviews can improve employee performance and motivate them, or lead to burnout and negative feelings about managers and the workplace. Employee performance reviews help businesses by looking at the efforts and effectiveness of each of their employees while measuring their success and pointing out areas of improvement. However, employee reviews can make staff feel unappreciated and belittled when done improperly. 


Unfortunately, many managers struggle to figure out how to deliver constructive feedback. While employee reviews are designed to allow managers time to write out their thoughts, many people may feel like they're criticizing their employees, and others may not consider their employees' feelings at all. Performance reviews are challenging and require sensitivity, but understanding the process can make it easier. Here is your manager's guide to performance reviews. 

What Is the Purpose of Performance Reviews?

Performance reviews help managers give employees feedback by evaluating an employee's performance based on the different expectations for their particular duties and role overall. When performance reviews are navigated correctly, they can help employees understand what employers expect of them, the duties they're performing well, and how they can improve while supporting larger employee engagement goals


Of course, you should also highlight how their work supports the overall company's goals. Without reminding employees why their duties are essential, they can easily forget about their overall role within an organization. For example, a software developer may not get to speak to the CEO every day, so it's his manager's responsibility to remind him of why his work is important. 


Managers should also recognize top performers while correcting issues along the way rather than waiting for an annual review. Performance reviews can encourage growth and development. 

The Review Process

In the past, employee performance reviews have been done annually, and an employee will sit down with their manager and go over documents explaining their achievements and failures. In some organizations, employees may just get an email with questions answered by their supervisors. However, many companies found this method ineffective because managers didn't take the time to give constructive feedback or check-in with their employees more often to ensure they were reaching their goals. 


The employee review process has three phases:

  1. Goal setting
  2. Follow-ups
  3. Conversations


In the first phase, employees will sit down with their managers to discuss their goals. Employees should have goals for themselves, just as managers will have goals for their employees. Always ensure the goals are achievable within a realistic timeframe and have a good method for tracking employee performance to measure achievements effectively. 


During the follow-up stage, the manager will meet with the employee regularly to discuss their performance. During the first few months, managers can discuss the goals that have been met and the ones that are ongoing to ensure the employee has everything they need to meet those goals. After that, follow-ups should occur multiple times per year to allow employees to voice their concerns and get any help they need. 


The final stage is when the employee and manager meet formally to discuss how the employee performed during the last twelve months. During the formal conversation, the manager should have written feedback for the employee to refer to after the meeting. From this conversation, the manager and employee will create new goals to track for the next year.

What to Include in an Employee Review

Every employee review should have:

  • Employee self-review: The employee's self-evaluation helps managers understand how the employee views their work and the goals they've achieved to help them understand what the employee expects from the conversation. 
  • Assessment of achieved goals: Assessments of goals and progress are done by the manager to look at the performance goals and make notes about those that have and have not been achieved. This assessment should be as detailed as possible to help employees identify where they succeeded and where they need to improve. 
  • Evaluation of overall performance: The evaluation of overall performance should take a look at how the employee works, including their soft skills as well as their skillset. The evaluation can help the employee understand themselves and their role better while helping management evaluate the skill sets of the employees.

Tips for a Strong Performance Review

Set Goals Immediately

By setting goals at the beginning of someone's time working under you, you can set clear expectations for employees. Remember, your goals should be realistic and measurable. If you can't measure employee performance with data, it will be harder to convince them that they need to improve later on. 

Make Time

Managers are busy, so they might feel like they don't have enough time to meet with all of their employees. However, taking the time to set clear goals and allow your employees to ask questions can actually make them more productive. Your formal performance review should be thorough and done in person, so make sure you set aside enough time to address your employees' concerns and walk them through their evaluation. 

Consider Your Language

How you speak to your employees can make or break a review. Always make sure you're using language that's objective and specific rather than telling your employees. You should also remember this is the time for constructive feedback, not criticizing employees you don't like. Being respectful of your employees and their work can help prevent frustrations that make employees quit their jobs. 

Offer Actionable Steps

If your employee seems to be struggling in one area, you can help them reach their goals by offering them advice. You can either write down the different steps they can take or give them tips for completing their job duties more efficiently. Taking the time to develop your employees' skills with them can help strengthen your bond and improve their work quality. 

Always Have a Discussion

While you hope your employees understand everything you're saying, your performance review should be more of a discussion than you talking at them. Instead of reading off everything you wrote down on their formal review, consider writing down a few talking points for discussion. By talking to your employees, you can understand how they feel about their job duties and start to uncover reasons why they didn't reach their goals, ultimately helping them find a resolution to problems faster. 

Final Thoughts

Most companies think of performance reviews in ways that they can improve the company by telling employees what they're doing wrong. However, performance reviews should help your employees just as much as their success helps the business. Making time to discuss issues and deal with them when they arise can help keep your staff engaged and ensure productivity. 


guest author Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a contributing writer at where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, making art, and her pup Ruby.


This guest post was written by Julia Olivas and may not be copied or published without PeopleGuru's express written consent. 


Topics: Guru Development, employee development

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