3 min read

7 Ways Companies Perfect The Pesky Performance Review

By Ryan Eudy on May 17, 2016 10:31:38 AM

Topics: Human Resources
ej4 Blog - 7 Ways Companies Perfect The Pesky Performance Review

Employee performance reviews are one of life’s pesky and unavoidable necessities thousands of workers endure every year.

Given how much they are a part of corporate life (and employee stress), one would expect most companies to have them down to a science. On the contrary, research firm i4cp found in a 2013 study that only 55 percent of respondents thought performance reviews had a positive impact on their organizations. Furthermore, only 28 percent believed their organizations were any good at performance management as a whole.

So what is that 28% doing that other organizations aren’t? We’ve uncovered seven things successful companies do when it comes to performance reviews.

View Performance Reviews as Part of a Total Performance Management Package

Performance reviews should not be isolated events, but rather a piece of a total performance management package. Performance management starts with hiring and continues on through onboarding and training, performance reviews, coaching, mentoring, rewards and recognition, and even overall succession planning. When you think of performance reviews in this wider context, it becomes easier to appreciate their value and integrate them into talent retention and development initiatives.

Return to the Job Description

Successful companies always review the job description as part of the performance review. This allows them to do two things: ensure that the employee is successfully fulfilling his or her role, and reflect on whether the role still fits the organization. A performance review is a perfect time to see if a given role entails more responsibilities, especially as business practices evolve.

Make Employees Reciprocal Partners in the Review Process

Successful organizations encourage their employees to actively participate in the review process. They will typically do this by inviting the employee to provide a written self-assessment first, allowing the employee to reflect on and evaluate their own performance (if a written assessment is not feasible, self-reflection can still be a part of the review. Simply set the expectation that employees will be required to provide an oral assessment during the review, and be sure to listen carefully to what they have to say).

At the actual review, managers start off the meeting as a dialogue. They ask questions, listen, and set a constructive tone for the meeting. They are willing to clarify and discuss goals, give constructive criticism, and listen to concerns.

Give 360 Feedback

Performance reviews mean precious little if useful feedback is lacking. Good managers give feedback; great managers solicit feedback from coworkers, direct reports, and other managers (and even customers or vendors, where appropriate). Getting feedback from multiple sources gives a more well-rounded view of the employee and how well they are fulfilling their role.

Provide Training in Harmony with Performance Reviews

The issue with most performance reviews is that they lack post-review direction. The employee is then expected to take some lessons away from the review and then try their hardest to improve. Needless to say, results vary.

Successful companies use performance reviews as a stepping stone to further training, especially if the employee has problems in some areas that training can help them improve. If the employee has already met their employer’s expectations, training can be used for further development, readying the employee for greater levels of responsibility.

The best way to meet these individual training goals is to use an eLearning system that can be tailored to each individual. That way, employees can focus solely on the content they need given their performance review.

Subject the Review Process Itself to Performance Management

The most successful organizations subject the performance review process to review itself. They question what is working, what isn’t, and what is best aligned with the organization’s overall goals. These are often referred to as “second-level reviews” of performance appraisals, and they are typically conducted either by HR or by second-tier management.

Second-level reviews will require exploring how managers give feedback and coach their direct reports.

Demonstrate that There is Always Room for Growth

Even the most talented employees can improve and grow in some areas. Giving them a rubber-stamp performance review robs them of the opportunity to grow and develop. Not only does this stall your development and succession efforts, it can hurt retention.

Successful organizations think of ways to grow employees into the positions they might hold two, five, or ten years down the line. As part of performance management, they ask how they can help employees prepare for the next phase and what skills they will need for that phase. They make clear there are new things to learn and there is a clear path to promotion for those willing to engage.

If you would like to learn more ways to improve your company’s performance reviews, request a free 15-day trial of our Thinkzoom platform and turn something that was once dreaded into a valuable experience.


Ryan Eudy

Written by Ryan Eudy

Since joining ej4 in 2005, Ryan has operated in every facet of the business. It is this experience that Ryan utilizes to manage ej4’s daily operations. Ryan offers innovative solutions and has a unique understanding of matching client needs with the right performance improvement tools to change targeted behaviors.

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