Complete Employee Performance Reviews Like a Boss

Posted by Tyler • July 30, 2015 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 4 min read

“Time for employee reviews!”


We know that phrase can elicit all sorts of reactions like excitement, dread, and possibly a small amount of sweating. If you’re a manager, here are 9 quick things to keep in mind when conducting a review for your direct reports to make the process a little easier on everyone.


1. Understand the review process before starting

Each organization does reviews a little differently. Check in with a few key groups to find out what’s expected of you before you get started–like HR or your department leader. If your organization has opted to do reviews online, then you’ll also want to get a good idea of how the software works before diving in. Take 15 minutes to watch available video tutorials and read user guides to make sure you understand when and how information is going to be transferred to avoid mishaps.


2. Ask your Employee for a self appraisal

Gaining first hand insight into how the employee thinks they’re doing can be a valuable tool in getting the best out of that person at work. We recommend having them fill out the same or a very similar appraisal to the one you’ll be doing so you can easily compare differences in scores in specific areas. Ask the employee thoughtful open ended questions and encourage comments about the scores they give themselves.


3. Be honest

We know this one can be tricky as a manager. Where is the line between being honest and possibly being hurtful? The thing is, leaving work problems un-discussed doesn’t give the employee any reason to try to improve. If there is an issue, take some time beforehand to think about how you want to present that to the employee as well as concrete steps the employee can take to improve.


4. Set aspirational goals

Research shows that employees are happier when they are challenged at work. Translation: Give them something hard to do and you’ll end up with a more engaged employee who is less likely to leave. This is a great tool to keep your top performers and make them feel valued.


5. Ask for peer feedback

Building a complete picture of how your employee operates at works is an essential part of the review cycle. You might find out your employee is helping out in ways you didn’t know and you’ll want to pass along those kudos to encourage great teamwork or uncover an area for improvement. Use discretion when choosing what to share with the employee about their peer reviews and reviewers though. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of peer reviews because it can cause strained work relationships, talk to your HR team about how to conduct anonymous peer reviews.


6. Keep it office appropriate

We all spend a lot of time at work and it’s easy to forget that our work relationships are much different than our personal relationships. When you are providing feedback to an employee, or peers, be sure that it is constructive and relatable to work. Focus on topics such as productivity, ease to work with, job performance, areas for improvement and communications skills.


7. Give continuous feedback

Too often, the employee appraisal cycle focuses on reviewing performance once or twice a year and using that schedule to provide feedback. That type of schedule means missing out on the opportunity to provide real-time feedback that can identify potential problem areas or give employees the boost of confidence they deserve after a job well done. Using the Trakstar notes functionality is a great way to let your employees know when they are doing a great job, or when they may need to rethink their approach to work. In addition, providing continuous feedback will let you chart the progress your employees have made throughout the cycle.


8. Meet with your Employees

While online appraisals in Trakstar provide an easy and convenient way to manage the appraisal process, it is still important to meet with your employees. The face-to-face meeting is a great way to add context and emphasis to your appraisal feedback in a direct, non-threatening way. Additionally, a face-to-face meeting is a great way to identify differences in the way you and your employees might be approaching job responsibilities. When you communicate directly with each other, it becomes easier to establish clear expectations and create a more inclusive working environment.


9. Don’t just give feedback, get it, too

Giving feedback to your employees is used to improve performance, but using this time to ask your employees to provide meaningful feedback for your organization can help you understand how to improve your workplace. Be sure to request feedback about the employee’s job description, company culture, manager’s performance or organization strengths and weaknesses. The more you understand how your employees view their workplace, the more you can direct organizational change to achieve better results.

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