Making the most of performance reviews

Giving feedback is an important part of managing your team.  However, performance reviews shouldn’t be a tick box exercise.   This month’s blog looks at how to have effective reviews.


Don’t wait

Very few people look forward to performance reviews.  Giving constructive feedback is hard.  Employees tend to think they are going to get told off.

Regular (monthly) one to ones can take the fear away. Employees have a good idea of how they are doing and concerns are addressed before they have the chance to grow.   Targets can be set and achieved, giving a sense of satisfaction for all.

Preparing for the Review Meeting

We are all busy in our jobs and it is tempting to defer a performance review meeting. However, what this says is that the manager thinks they have more important things to do with their time.  Never reschedule an appraisal unless you have absolutely no choice and make sure you won’t be interrupted.  Unless it’s a fire drill, it can wait.  Turn off your phone during the meeting so you are not distracted.

Good preparation is vital.  It shows that you take the meeting seriously and have thought carefully about your feedback and their future progression.  It will also help you to listen properly and focus on the discussion.  You should:

 Be positive about the meeting.
 Make sure your employee knows what to expect and that they should prepare too.
 Clarify goals and obtain the employee’s buy-in.  They should feel motivated to achieve their targets.
 Look back and review achievements since the last appraisal.
 Have specific questions prepared.  Ask what training or development the employee thinks they need.
 Define new targets for the next appraisal period.
 Plan how these targets are to be reached,
 End on a positive note.  Even if performance is poor, be optimistic that goals can be achieved


The employee may be saving up an issue to discuss at their performance review. Don’t forget to ask how they are, how they are getting on with the team, if there is anything at home which may affect their work performance. Offer support.

Setting objectives

Are the employee’s objectives actually measurable?  If not, how will you both know if they have been achieved?

Be specific with the goals that are set.  If you ask someone to “increase sales”, if they increase sales by £1, that means they have met their target.

Are the targets you are setting relevant or are you just coming up with something as it’s appraisal time? Are they realistic? What goals will improve the performance of the team? Do the targets tie in with the aims of the business as a whole?

Make sure that the timescales are achievable. Be realistic about how long a task will take to complete.

Importantly, check your employee agrees that what is being asked of them is achievable.  If they feel they have been set up to fail, they are never going to have the enthusiasm needed to succeed.


Regular feedback is key and shouldn’t be reserved for the appraisal meeting. Using specific examples is helpful.  Employees should feel comfortable giving feedback too.   In a healthy working environment, both employees and managers are comfortable to give and receive feedback.

In order to make the most of an appraisal meeting, both parties need to prepare. The meeting can then spend time focusing on moving forward.

Follow up and follow through

One of the most demotivating thing about reviews is taking out the last appraisal, only to find that nothing has changed.  That only leads to the question “what’s the point?” If you say you are going to do something, do it.  Otherwise, how can you hold your employee responsible if they don’t do what they said they would.


If you would like more information, please contact me.

Categories Staff Performance, Uncategorized