What is a performance review?

A performance review is an in-depth assessment that managers conduct to gauge employee progress, strengths, and weaknesses, to help improve their productivity.

The frequency of performance reviews varies, though they usually occur from every 3 months to a year. Providing employees with constructive feedback allows them to reap the greatest benefit from these formal assessments.  

Effective performance reviews should help employees:

  • Recognize weak and strong areas of performance  
  • Set goals
  • Reach solutions

Why should HR leaders care about performance reviews?

Performance reviews can help employees improve productivity by providing:

  • Positive reinforcement (when appropriate)
  • Clarification of expectations
  • Constructive feedback 

These assessments offer an opportunity for employees to reflect on their work progress, achievements, and weak points. Performance reviews also provide the structure for managers to meet one-on-one with employees and guide them towards goals and actualizing their potential.

What can HR do to ensure effective performance reviews?

HR leaders can build an assessment program for managers to assess employees, which includes these components:

  • Create a system of communication.  Managers can prepare employees for performance reviews by offering periodic, constructive feedback. Maintaining this high level of work fitness supports employee-productivity and keeps them “in-shape.”
  • Cultivate a growth-minded approach. Guide managers to conduct performance reviews which praise employee accomplishments, yet also bring their weaknesses to light. Positive praise and constructive criticism can empower employees and motivate them to improve. Support employees to express their concerns, perspective, and respectful feedback to managers.
  • Update employees. Give employees (especially the rookies) ample notice of the performance review date, and an overview of what will be discussed. They can prepare by doing a self-assessment, recording their progress, achievements, goals, areas for improvement, and rating their work performance according to the evaluation criteria.
  • Mediate.  When tension arises between a manager and employee, an HR leader can step in to work through the points of contention.
  • Analyze and organize results. Review the performance evaluation results, and (if need be) investigate why employees aren’t performing well. Implement a simple action plan for them to follow to improve their work practices. Keep results digitally organized, so HR can easily track employee progress. Protect employee privacy by only allowing authorized employees to access employee information.

How can effective performance reviews improve company culture?

Performance reviews are most effective when employees can prepare for them, using them as opportunities for reflection and improvement. Within this framework of positive reinforcement, managers and employees can build strong bonds, engage in constructive conversations, work together to set goals, and raise the level of work performance.  A company culture based on such honest and nurturing manager-employee relationships is sure to be one that employees want to be part of.