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Make performance reviews more than an Annual Piece of Paper!

Posted by Joanne on September 9, 2011 Comments (2)


10 Tips for Positive Impactful Performance Reviews!

Performance reviews, the formal part of a Performance Management Process, are often looked upon with dread by managers and employees alike. Sometimes cynicism creeps in with the thought that the review is as useful as an annual piece of paper (APOP)!

1. Make the content of the performance review relevant to the position, performance standards, and aligned to company culture and goals. If one of the key performance indicators is customer focus, for example, explain what that means and what it takes to achieve each level of performance.

2. Measure each key performance indicator individually. Don’t let a stellar achievement or development issue in one area sway your measurement in other areas. For example, if someone is spectacular with the technical aspects of the job, but needs development with building customer relationships, don’t let that influence the ratings in the other area by making it higher or lower than you should.

3. Keep the paper work and approval process to a reasonable level or the administration of the performance reviews can become a nightmare. Automate if you can!

4. Keep a journal to document achievements and areas for improvement throughout the year. Remember to provide immediate feedback so there are no surprizes during the review period.

5. Follow up on performance issues and goals. Don’t file the review away until the next year. It should be reviewed often or it just becomes an APOP (Annual Piece of Paper) worth nothing.

6. Keep on schedule. If reviews are to be completed by a certain date, then work backwards from that date, being careful to allow time for vacations or other commitment that might delay the review.

7. Know why you are conducting the review. Understand and communicate the importance of the review with respect to employee development, continuous improvement, succession planning, changes in company strategy, and connection with pay increase and bonus.

8. Train your managers and employees on the performance management process including giving and receiving constructive feedback, setting goals, and accurately measuring performance against standards.

9. Make the process 360. Allow employees to communicate and document what the manager can do to help them perform better and what the company can do to improve processes. Compile input from multiple sources.

10. Tie your review process to pay increases and bonuses if you would like to foster a pay for performance work environment. The performance review process should help elevate performance standards throughout the company not discourage your high performers.

You can automate the process so the workflow, documentation, communication, and deadlines are easier to manage. Automation allows for ongoing easy access to reviews, development plans, and goals and objectives.  There are many options to automate the process. Check out SuccessFactors and Canadian-based companies like TribeHR and Rypple.

How is the performance review process at your company? Does it fill you with dread? Is it relevant to what you do or is it just an APOP? Give us a call if you need help making your performance review more than an APOP! 

Best regards, Joanne


  1. Hi Joanne – great post. I like that APOP acronym.

    #4, in particular, is so crucial! Especially your comment on no surprises. A review shouldn’t be a time to present new information – it should be a review of comments and feedback an employee is already aware of.

    I’m biased (because we do this really well) but I also think a key element is to also make it easier to incorporate comments & notes from co-workers that happened. If it’s hard for managers to recall feedback, it’s even harder for co-workers. 360′s are great, but they suffer from the same problem of operating on stale and easily forgotten data sources.

    Comment by Joseph Fung — September 9, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  2. Thank you for your comments Joseph. Yes, it is important to track / compile comments and notes from coworkers on an ongoing basis as well. And solutions like TribeHR help keep the info fresh, relevant and easy to access.
    I like the APOP acronym too. I read this in an article about performance reviews many years ago and haven’t been able to find the article since. But the main thing is that it sticks in your head and is easy to remember!

    Comment by Joanne — September 9, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

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 Joanne Royce

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