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The Key to Successful Performance Reviews

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

Wood blocks form a semi-circle from red to green with a dial pointing at green. Larger blocks also show sad to happy faces.

Ah, the infamous annual performance review. Supervisors and employees alike may approach this meeting with some combination of dread, indifference, or glee, depending on the dynamic in question.

At its simplest, a performance review is a formal, one-on-one meeting between a supervisor and a direct report to go over their performance in the last year.

It is generally a time for the manager to offer feedback and guidance, as well as develop a plan to complete long-term goals. It can also serve as a platform to address issues in performance and begin implementing solutions. Provided you haven’t spent the last year slacking off, the performance review is also a valuable opportunity for you as an employee to get feedback and recognition on achievements to help advance your career. Today, let’s talk about performance reviews from both sides.

As an employer, the performance review provides the perfect platform to let a staff member know how they are doing. In general, it should focus on both strengths and weaknesses where possible: even the best producer can improve and grow and someone who is struggling will have areas where they can shine. As the manager, you are responsible for making sure there is adequate time to hold the review and a private environment in which to have it. This will ensure that both you and the team member can have an open, productive conversation. Additionally, you should always come to the meeting prepared with specific comments and insights. When presenting information about targeted areas of improvement, endeavor to avoid blaming or being overly emotional.

Focus on facts and things that the employee can actually improve upon with a doable action plan and timeline for completion.

For positive feedback, it should be linked back to the mission or goal of the company and job expectations. This is an opportunity to highlight why their contributions are valued and future-focused so both parties leave with ideas on how to drive higher performance and continued success.

As an employee, the performance evaluation is a chance to make sure your contributions are recognized. Keep track of your own progress throughout the year as well as your achievements and gains toward your professional goals.

This meeting is an excellent opportunity to point out your accomplishments, challenges you’re facing, and any resources needed to fulfill the expectation of the job.

But why wait a whole year for feedback? Plan to meet with your supervisor on a semi-regular basis to check in and make sure you are meeting expectations and ensure you’re on track. Just like a manager, you should also prepare for the meeting. Set goals with your manager at the review that you can achieve throughout the year not only to make measurable progress and contribute to your workplace, but also to advance your own career.

For both the employee and the employer, approaching the meeting with the intention of a constructive dialogue is key. Be a good listener and take what the other person says as objectively as possible. Performance reviews shouldn’t end when the meeting is over. Remember that this is a learning and growing opportunity: in order for it to be effective, both people have to foster a productive environment that can have a significant impact on the success and engagement of the employee, team, and organization as a whole.


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