• 6 min read

How to Conduct an Effective Employee Performance Evaluation

Joanna Zambas
Joanna Zambas

Content Manager and Career Expert

performance review measurement concept

Let’s face it: grilling an employee on what they have or haven’t done throughout the year can be uncomfortable – making you feel just as nervous as they feel while sitting in the hot seat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

A performance evaluation should be a formal but relaxed discussion about the goals of the company and the worker to ensure everyone is happy and all needs are being met. There should be no awkwardness or any emotions running high.

If you’re a first-time manager or if you haven’t quite mastered the trick of conducting an effortless employee performance review, read the tips listed below!

Before the Review

1. Set Clear Goals from the Start of the Year

At the start of the year, you should have a meeting with your employees individually to understand what they would like to achieve and to also set personal goals. For example, if you work in sales, you should set clear targets from the get-go so your employees know what they are working towards. This will also set the tone of the appraisal and it will give you something to base their performance on throughout the year.

2. Provide Feedback Throughout the Year

When an employee enters the appraisal room, there shouldn’t be any surprises, which is why it’s important to provide feedback on their performance throughout the year. You don’t want to pull them up on their behaviour towards a colleague three months later! It will only wind them up and lead them to question your managerial skills, as you didn’t say something sooner.

Therefore, if you see an issue before the appraisal, speak to your employee about it and set a strategy in place to overcome it. This way you can discuss their progress, or lack of progress, during the annual meeting.

3. Have a Clear Structure

There should be a clear process that managers and employees should follow across departments when it comes to annual appraisals in the workplace. All managers should have the same template of the evaluation form and they should hand this out to their staff members to fill at least a few weeks before the scheduled meeting, giving them the same deadline.

Calendar invites should also be sent to all employees and there should be no changes or pushbacks unless there is a clear emergency that needs to be attended to. This way, everyone knows what to expect and will follow the correct protocol.

4. Prepare for the Meeting

There’s nothing worse than going into a meeting unprepared. After all, you’re supposed to be leading the review and should have a clear structure of points you would like to make. To ensure you’re fully prepared, you should figure out a development plan based on your notes from the year. You should also review your colleague’s self-evaluation form and incorporate parts on their feedback into your evaluation.

During the Review

5. Start Off on a Positive Note

Starting off on a positive tone is always a good method. No one wants to be told how useless they are and then sit there for another 30 minutes raging on the inside, failing to listen to anything that you’ve said. Instead, it’s advisable to begin with a simple question like ‘How have you got on this year?’ or by listing all of the great things they have achieved. If there’s any criticism, save it until later.

6. Turn it into a Two-Way Conversation

An effective performance review requires an open, two-way conversation. You should be constantly asking questions and making statements that seek the employee’s input. You should be able to understand what their thought process is and if they have any concerns.

7. Don’t Be Confrontational

If there is something negative that you need to discuss, be sure to do so in a constructive manner. You should voice your concerns on a matter and then find ways to implement improvements. In other words, don’t start accusing your employee of certain things; instead, ask them how they feel about a specific situation.

8. Discuss Work-Life Balance

It’s important for your workers to have a good work-life balance so they don’t end up feeling burned out later down the line! And what better opportunity than an annual appraisal to discuss it? It’s a great time to discuss their overall happiness and future development to create a plan for advancement. Even if it’s not for the near future, it’s good to have an end-goal in sight.

9. Only Make Promises You Can Keep

There’s so many times that I’ve heard of managers overpromising and not delivering, whether it’s a higher salary, a change of job title or better benefits. And do you know how that all ended? With the employee feeling demotivated and searching elsewhere for better opportunities. The moral of this story is that you should never make promises. Only make announcements when something has been officially approved by your manager.

10. Ask the Employee for Feedback

As it’s a two-way conversation, you should ask the employee for feedback on management. They may have valid points that you’ve overlooked. You can ask what you have done to help their performance or what they would like you to do going forward. Be sure to implement any changes necessary to show your employees that their opinion matters, too!

11. End on a Positive Note

Make sure your employee leaves the room feeling motivated and productive. You should summarise your overall evaluation and go over any points that you’re going to work on to improve in the coming year. Essentially, you should make them feel that they can talk to you when they need some guidance.

After the Review

12. Let Them Review Your Notes

After the evaluation, you should give the employee your copy of the appraisal form so they can read through your notes and, if they agree, sign it. You should encourage them to make a copy so they can revert back to it throughout the year.

13. Give a Copy to the HR Department

Once the employee has signed the form, you should pass this copy onto the HR department to keep in the employee’s file. This will help the department analyse the data and they will notice any recurring patterns. This can help identify any areas that need improving, whether it’s additional training or different management methods.

14. Follow Up on Any Actions That You Discussed

If you set out an action plan during the meeting, you need to stick to your promise and follow up with the employee on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure they are making the necessary progress. No matter how snowed under you are, it’s important to set in slots in your calendar from after the appraisal to make sure that you stick to your plan. This will show the employee that you’re genuinely interested in helping them grow (which you should be) and will encourage them to do better.

All in all, you want the employee to leave the room feeling satisfied with their performance and with their job. And, if you follow these steps, you should be on the right path – even if you have to give a little bit of constructive criticism.

Have you had difficulties conducting a performance review before? If so, join in on the conversation below and let us know.