3 Steps For Conducting An Effective Employee Performance Review

Most businesses conduct their employee performance reviews annually.  Typically, many managers do not enjoy conducting them and often times do not know the proper techniques for getting a review done properly.

To help you get the most out of your employee reviews we have listed three of the most crucial steps that need to be taken in order to ensure the execution of an effective employee performance review.

1. Have The Employee Conduct A Self-Evaluation

Before sitting down for the actual review, have employees fill out a self-evaluation form.  This gives employees an idea of what they are in store for during the actual review.  Furthermore, it gets employees actively thinking about the work they have done in the past year.  Additional benefits of self-evaluations include: 

  • Involving multiple perspectives in the eventual performance review.  Managers cannot remember everything, and even if they can, they only bring one perspective to the table. 
  • Alerting management of any disparities between what they think an employee's performance has been and what the employee thinks.
  • Showing employees that the review process is one of give-and-take.  That is, the employee has a say in the process too. 

The mark of a good employee self-evaluation form is the quality of its questions.  Here are some examples of general questions to include in a self-evaluation form:

  • What work did you enjoy the most and why?
  • What skills and talents helped you achieve success?
  • What was the most difficult or challenging work you have done?
  • What results make you the most proud?

2. Prepare For The Review

Rushing through employee reviews to get them over and done with is one of the biggest mistakes managers make.  If you want to make the review process move quickly and easily, take the time to prepare beforehand.  not only will this help expedite the actual review process, it will also make it less laborious. 

To prepare for an employee performance review:

  • Review the employee's job description.
  • Write an agenda for the meeting.
  • Think about what you want an employee t take from the review.
  • Schedule reviews in advance; never spring them on an employee without notice.
  • Review the performance measures you will use for assessment.

3. Implement A Fair And Consistent Rating System

Quantifying performance review data can be a difficult process.  Arbitrary numbers and grades do not tell you a whole lot -- what a "7" means to one person might be entirely different to someone else.  The best approach to a rating system we have seen is the Unsatisfactory to Exceptional Scale. 

  • Unsatisfactory: The employee's work is well below the minimum level of performance.  The employee must make significant improvements to their work.  
  • Below Average: The employee's work meets some of the minimum levels of performance but not all.  As a result, the employee must immediately improve in some aspect of their work. 
  • Satisfactory: The employee's work meets all minimum levels of performance, even excelling in some areas. 
  • Above Average: The employee's work is above minimum levels of performance.  The employee shows initiative in the business' success.
  • Exceptional: The employee's work exhibits superior levels of performance and the impact on the overall success of the company.

Furthermore, be sure to provide employees with a rating key complete with short, 1-2 sentence descriptions of what each rating means, similar to our example above.  This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page as far as what a rating means exactly.


After handing out employee self-evaluations, all that is left is to have the actual performance reviews.  When the time comes, make sure you come prepared.  What is the point of having an employee performance review if neither you nor your employees take anything away from it?  As for the review itself, make sure your rating system is known throughout the organization and is fair, easy to understand, and is consistently used by each manager. 
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