Conduct Employee Performance Reviews Painlessly


If you're like most managers, you've probably wondered about employee performance reviews.

Regular performance reviews let team members know exactly where they stand. While you don't need a review to do this, most managers find it helpful to have this formal process in place. Everything is documented and put in an employee's file. If you are deciding who to promote or who to lay off, you can use these insights to help you choose.

It definitely seems like something you should do — but how and when? Here are some guidelines to help you get started.

When Is the Right Time?

You should try to conduct employee performance reviews at least once a year, but that doesn't mean you should only talk to your employees about their performance on an annual basis. You should meet regularly with your employees and provide performance feedback in real-time. Once a year, you should have a formal review, where you document how well the employee is doing, where they need improvement and what goals they should be working toward in the new year.

Some companies like to do this for every employee at the end of the calendar year, or at another designated time. Other companies prefer to review each employee on their anniversary date. It's all about what works for your business.

How Do You Get Started?

When looking to conduct employee performance reviews, you'll want to develop a template that you can use for all personnel. It's important that employees be evaluated in a similar fashion. Of course, the goals and achievements will vary from person to person and position to position, but they should have a consistent format.

You can decide whether to do a numbers-based evaluation or simply a written evaluation with a result of "exceeds expectations," "meets expectations" or "fails to meet expectations." Regardless of how you decide to proceed, you'll want to include (at the minimum) the following three sections.

  1. Company values. How did each employee perform in relation to the overall company values? If your company doesn't have established values, that should be the first step. Review what is most important to your company; is it honesty, customer service, punctuality or something else? What qualities are important for each of your employees to exhibit?
  2. Individual goals. These are unique to each position and may be unique to the individual, depending on what kind of plan you have for your employees. Did the employee exceed, meet or fail to meet the individual goals you set for them last year? What do they need to improve on? Talk through the goals with the employee and be open to suggestions they may have.
  3. Individual goals for the coming year. After you've evaluated an employee's performance, you should set new goals for the upcoming year. These can be identical to last year's goals, or they can change. The targets can be identical for people with the same jobs, or you can make them unique to each employee. In these cases, it's important to establish the understanding that people with more difficult goals will see better rewards for their hard work.

Once you implement regular performance reviews, you'll always know where your employees stand — and your employees will know how they are doing. You'll be able to easily see who has potential and who isn't living up to company standards.