Tips for an Effective Employee Performance Review Process

Employee Performance Review Process Part 2: Tips for Giving Effective Employee Reviews

Despite all the debate about whether annual performance reviews ought to happen, the fact is that they still usually do. And, if you’re going to make time for them, you may as well make them valuable for both the manager and employee.

Here are some tips to help ensure employee review effectiveness, even if you already have a performance review process that you like. This advice is directed at both managers and HR professionals and gives you the opportunity to reconsider your annual performance review objectives.

Annual Performance Review Objectives for Managers

Do you fret over losing your top employees? Feel confident you’re paying and managing them better than anyone else in your industry. View our webinar Employee Retention: High Impact Performance Management for Engaging and Retaining Your Top Performers and get ahead of the competition.
  • First and foremost, don’t wait for an annual performance review to give an employee feedback. The objective of an annual performance review should be to summarize what has already been discussed.
  • Avoid non-work-related issues. That can be a recipe for legal hot water.
  • Focus on the employee’s talents and strengths and look for ways you can capitalize on them as you develop their future goals and performance objectives.
  • When identifying areas of employee improvement, provide concrete plans for them to work on that can be measured and assessed at a later date.
  • Participate in communication and feedback training opportunities. There are always ways to improve our effectiveness as communicators.
  • Don’t focus on the negatives! Don’t spend one minute praising an employee and then the next 59 minutes telling them what they did wrong. Make sure that you take the time to recognize and celebrate the things your employees do well. For example, “I know we all lean on you for information because you’re an excellent researcher. That’s really valuable when we’re presenting to new clients.”
  • On the other hand, don’t give a poor performer a “good” performance review hoping that your nice approach will win them over to the good side of performance. Labor attorneys tell us that it is the Plaintiff’s annual performance reviews that work against a company’s defense in a lawsuit because the annual performance reviews are so positive. “How could you have terminated my client for poor performance when you gave him such glowing performance reviews?” Make sure poor performance is accurately described in their annual performance reviews.

Annual Performance Review Objectives for HR Professionals

  • Keep the performance review form and the process simple. You are facilitating the performance review process more effectively with a simple and easy-to-use form, as well as clear steps to completing the process.
  • Keep a constant flow of good communication and feedback training programs available.
  • Have a place on the performance review form where employees can make comments. That way, employees have a place to express their opinion of the review. This improves employee review effectiveness because it can help you identify what issues remain outstanding with them and what you need to do to resolve them.

The Salary Increase: To Link It to the Annual Performance Review or Not, That Is the Question

Since we are discussing ways to improve the performance review process, I would like to address an additional issue. It’s the long-standing debate about whether salary increases should be discussed at the same time as performance.

I’m afraid this debate will go on long after I have rode off into the sunset. But, like everybody else, I have an opinion. Organizations that have adopted the pay-for-performance philosophy should always ensure there is a link between an employee’s performance and their pay.

Learn More About Our Compensation Software


My opinion is that you can do this and still keep the performance review conversation separate from the salary increase conversation. I have found that when they happen at the same time, the employee hears what his or her increase is and then the rest sounds like, “blah blah blah!” Even if those two conversations are separated by a day, I believe it is better than having them at the same time. Remember one of the objectives of giving annual performance reviews – to provide a simple and effective process that gives employees feedback and communicates the manager’s expectations of performance. The less distractions, the better.

John Sporleder

Founder and President, Sporleder Human Capital

Do you have a topic you would like Compensation Today to cover? Write us at

Are you paying your best employees enough to retain them after the economy picks back up? Get up-to-date and make sure your external salary market data is specific enough to the education, skills set and experience of employees you want to keep. Give a PayScale Demo a try.

Explore Related HR Articles

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of