How to Conduct a Productive Performance Review

If you have several people working under you at work and need to conduct performance reviews, you’re likely feeling some pressure. But performance reviews should not be just another item on your to-do list; they should be candid conversations about your direct reports’ growth within your organization. Here are a few pointers to get you started.


You should never walk into a performance review unprepared. Simply “winging” it could indicate your lack of care or attention to your employee. Make sure you prepare for the meeting in advance by putting everything you’d like to cover into an agenda so your employee knows what to expect, and you can both be more productive.

Set Expectations

It’s easy to focus on the past year and talk about the future broadly without specifics. But doing so doesn’t give your direct report any clear indications regarding growth. How can they develop when they don’t know what you expect? Spend a portion of the review discussing future plans. The more details you provide, the more likely they will perform to your satisfaction.

Remember There Are Two Sides

Performance reviews should be conducted with two people in mind: you and your employee. Going into a performance review assuming you are the most important person automatically sets you up for failure. It should not be a one-sided conversation where you detail their strengths, weaknesses, and growth areas; it should be a two-way conversation where you discuss those things. Let your employees evaluate themselves as well. The more you allow for dialogue, the more productive the session can be.

Be Honest

A performance review should always be truthful. It doesn’t help anyone to keep relevant information to yourself. If your employee isn’t performing as expected, tell them. If they’re doing well, praise them! Providing honest, constructive feedback is the best way to prepare your employee for growth.

Be Objective

The more you can support your review with data, the better. While you can check in on your employees in their personal lives and ensure they’re happy and healthy outside of work, your feelings about them as a person should hold no weight in comparison to their actual performance. Remain objective and ensure your reviews are merit-based and not a popularity contest.

Follow Up

Although your organization may require you to do performance reviews once per year, if you want to support and develop your employees, you should be conducting regular check-ins to ensure they are progressing as desired and to help navigate any issues before they become problems that could impact the following year’s performance review.

Performance reviews should be about helping your direct reports do their job better, which ultimately helps you do your job better. Retention is dependent on your ability to meet their needs and demonstrate your appreciation and projection for their growth.

Do you have any tips for conducting a productive performance review? Share them with us in the comments below!

1 Comment
  1. the employer should use terms and language the employees clearly understand. they should also be specific about what improvements to focus on and provide resources for growth. work with the employee. help him be better at his job

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.