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What Makes a Good Performance Review?

January 16, 2020

Performance Review

It’s no secret that nobody enjoys performance reviews. Both  incumbents and supervisors often see it as a waste of time rather than an opportunity to increase efficiency for both the individual and the organization. In fact, Gallup found that only 2 out of 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. But, performance reviews aren’t going anywhere, no matter how much we hate them. So how can we increase that 2 out of 10 to an 8 out of 10 – or better yet, a 10 out of 10?

Go Beyond the Annual Performance Review

A whole year shouldn’t go by before you speak to your incumbents about their performance. A once a year, one-hour meeting isn’t going to provide your employee with the feedback and guidance they need to make meaningful changes. Depending on the nature of the employee, their job duties, and their goals, meetings to discuss their performance should be more frequent (i.e., weekly or monthly). Check in with your employee regularly to discuss their progress toward their performance and developmental goals. Giving feedback on performance is much more impactful when the feedback is timely.

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Provide Behavioral Examples

Telling your employee that they are a good worker but that they need to improve on their attention-to-detail isn’t very constructive. Make sure your feedback is specific. If there is a certain area or competency they are struggling with, tell them specifically what they are doing wrong and offer suggestions for how they can improve. If their attention-to-detail needs improvement, let them know how. Do they make lots of typos in their presentations and emails? Do they regularly forget timelines? If so, what can they do to fix and improve upon these areas?

Set Development Goals

Your employee should never walk out of a performance discussion thinking, ”Okay, now what?” Once you’ve reviewed their performance, come up with a plan together for how they can leverage their strengths and improve their development areas. This plan should include objective and measurable goals with timelines. Setting these goals and timelines will help keep their development on their radar.

Look Beyond the Outcome

Your employee may be an all-star sales person, crushing their targets quarter after quarter, but they may be difficult to work with internally. They close deal after deal, but they don’t answer their emails, they refuse to collaborate with other departments, and overall, aren’t a team player. Make sure that’s captured in their performance reviews. Don’t just look at a piece of their performance, but rather consider their work in multiple different facets of the job. Examine how they contribute to the overall culture of the organization as well as the bottom line.

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Cassandra Walter Cassandra Walter is a Consulting Associate located at PSI's Pittsburgh office. She holds a master's degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She works with clients across many different industries, including manufacturing, retail, customer service, and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include providing training and support for PSI’s applicant tracking system, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.