How to Provide Performance Reviews That Engage Your Team


Imagine that you’re in a meeting with your boss to review your past year’s performance. Out of the blue, he reminds you of an incident that happened 10 months ago. You’d forgotten about it. Your boss didn’t mention it before now! How would you feel? What would be your response?

You might think, “Why didn’t you bring it up 10 months ago? Why are you bringing it up now?”

As the boss, when you conduct meaningful performance reviews, you must leave out the surprises. This all-important skill is required to build high-performance teams.

7 Tips for Conducting No-Surprise Performance Reviews

  1. Do It Now. Don’t Wait. Once a year is not productive. Instead, conduct interim performance reviews every quarter. Look at, “What is working? What is not working?” Consider using a qualified 360-degree feedback assessment…these can provide additional insights from team members. When a critical issue arises, address it immediately because memories will be more accurate and intervention can make a positive difference in the moment.
  1. Be Specific. Being prepared with specific facts and examples makes a positive impact. It encourages team members to listen to your feedback. Offer specific opportunities to support their development and growth as business professionals (e.g., coaching, training, work assignments, etc.).
  1. Individualize Feedback Using a Structured Approach. Avoid using rating systems, which rank or rate each team member against one another. This approach does not promote a high-performance team. Instead, use a structured questionnaire for each team member’s self-review. Then, review their feedback with your notes and insights. Now you can have a meaningful conversation.
  1. Focus on Growth and Development. Saying, “You’re doing great. I’ve nothing to add” or providing a list of criticisms is not helpful or meaningful. Remember the primary purpose of performance reviews is to provide objective growth and development feedback for each team member. Take the time to ensure they leave the performance review with one or two areas for improvement.
  1. Use First-Hand Knowledge. Failing to investigate issues doesn’t let you off the hook. Neither does saying, “I heard about this issue.” Investigate and verify before adding your observations. Then, ask for their perspective. Otherwise, you will create distrust between you and the rest of the team.
  1. Be Proactive. If there is problem brewing, share a story that exemplifies the potential issue and outcome. End by saying, “I’m committed that a similar situation doesn’t happen to you. This may be nothing…but, let’s be proactive. What do we need to do to get you on the right track?” Now, listen, make a plan, and follow-up to ensure progress is being made.
  1. Take the Time Required. Rubber stamping self-reviews may seem faster, however, it doesn’t make you a good boss or build a high-performance team. Again, it’s up to you to take the time to conduct performance reviews that are meaningful and engage your team.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2019

Jeannette Seibly is an award-winning champion for people and results. For the past 27 years, she has guided bosses and teams to excel. Want to improve your managing and coaching skills? Contact Jeannette today for straight talk with dynamic results.


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