A performance review is an assessment managers use to evaluate professionals’ progress, strengths, weaknesses, and productivity.

Performance review frequency can vary, though usually, they occur every three months to a year. Giving constructive feedback through these routine, formal assessments helps people acknowledge their strengths and where (and how) they can improve.

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Why should HR leaders care about performance reviews? 

While most people don’t exactly look forward to performance reviews, these honest conversations give managers and staff the worthwhile opportunity to discuss how things are going at work. 

Performance reviews can help professionals work more efficiently and perform higher-quality work. By giving positive reinforcement, clarifying expectations, and providing constructive feedback, managers can help professionals direct their efforts to work more productively.

Tips for effective employee performance reviews 

Let’s take a look at seven ways you can build and maintain a successful performance review program:

  • Set your intention. Begin with a performance review checklist and establish your objectives with a performance management template. These tools will enable you to stay organized and get positive results from the performance review process. 
  • Run performance reviews frequently. Performance reviews can be more effective when they occur more often than once a year. Quarterly or bi-annual feedback helps professionals keep a finger on the pulse of their performance so they can maintain high-performance work. 
  • Take a growth-minded approach. Instruct managers on how to walk the fine line between praise and critique. Celebrating people’s accomplishments is essential to fuel their motivation. But pointing out poor performance and how to improve it is equally important. 
  • Make the conversation two-way. Encourage a two-way conversation between managers and team members. Keeping the lines of communication open can nurture an honest, respectful, and long-term relationship.  
  • Keep professionals in the know. Give team members (especially new hires) ample notice of the performance review date and an overview of what you’ll discuss so they can prepare in advance.
  • Mediate. When tension arises between a manager and a team member, it can be tempting to let it slide. But as an HR leader, you can help tip the scales in a positive direction so each side can find common ground and work towards an agreement.  
  • Analyze and organize the results. To ensure performance reviews are effective, examine the results and investigate why performance levels may be low. Implementing a simple action plan can guide professionals to improve their work practices. Lastly, enter the results into the company’s performance management software so you can easily track work performance. 

What are some examples of performance review questions?

While each company and department may have its own set of performance review questions, we’ve included five example questions to help you better understand what drives your people: 

  • What motivates you to work productively?
  • Did you meet your goals? If so, which ones?
  • What obstacles make it more difficult for you to reach your goals?
  • Which areas of work do you want to improve in?
  • What type of L&D opportunities are you interested in pursuing?

What are some performance review phrases? 

Administering a performance review is easier said than done. Familiarizing yourself with phrasing ideas can help you maintain goodwill with professionals, even if you must have a difficult conversation. It’s usually helpful to start by addressing the person’s positive accomplishments in ways such as:

You’re doing a great job collaborating with team members to finish the project on time.

You’ve consistently shown up and done quality work, which has just helped us sign with a new customer. 

To address the professional about improving in a particular area, use statements that start with “I” rather than “you,” and don’t make assumptions.

I noticed that your productivity hasn’t been as high as usual. Perhaps you could keep it up by focusing on [ task/responsibility].

I think you’d be able to help out other team members more by taking on [action/responsibility].

What is a self-performance review? 

A self-performance review offers a way for professionals to assess their own work quality and work ethic. It’s often an initial part of the performance review process as it helps both sides better understand the person’s strengths, weaknesses, and progress.

What are some examples of ways to conduct self-performance reviews?

Self-evaluation isn’t a time for negative self-talk. It’s a chance for people to honestly examine their performance and recognize where they’re excelling and where they could use an extra push. 

A self-performance review is also an opportunity to set productivity, achievement, and career goals that fit the SMART way: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

How can effective performance reviews improve company culture?

Performance reviews enable managers and team members to have constructive conversations so they can set goals and find ways to elevate work performance. A company culture based on honest and nurturing manager-employee relationships is sure to be one that people want to be part of.

How can HR tech help with performance reviews? 

HR tech offers the ultimate tracking system for HR and managers. It stores and displays all performance data to provide a holistic picture of each professional’s performance trajectory.

Why should performance reviews be part of modern HR strategy? 

In such a fast-paced work world, checking in with people for a routine conversation is essential. Getting together to have an honest, goal-oriented discussion keeps people progressing in the right direction, connected with managers, and actively engaged with their work.