An HR Glossary for HR Terms
Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms
What Is a Performance Review?
A performance review is a formal assessment in which a manager evaluates an employee’s work performance, identifies strengths and weaknesses, offers feedback, and sets goals for future performance.
Performance reviews are also called performance appraisals, performance evaluations, or employee evaluations.
What Are Common Goals for Performance Reviews?
Performance reviews should help employees understand:
- What they’re doing well
- How they can improve
- How their work aligns with larger company goals
- What is expected of them in the future
Most managers use performance reviews to recognize high performing employees, correct performance issues before they become insurmountable, communicate expectations, encourage growth and development, and foster employee engagement.
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Do Most Companies Still Host an Annual Performance Review?
While many companies maintain an annual performance review cadence, it's no longer standard. Today, more companies are embracing frequent feedback. Managers conduct quarterly, monthly, or even weekly reviews.
In fact, some organizations are doing away with formal performance reviews altogether. Instead, these organizations favor more casual manager check-ins and one-on-ones.
What's a Self Evaluation Performance Review?
A self evaluation performance review invites employees to reflect on their work, skillset, and areas of improvement.
Self assessments help to balance a manager's feedback. If there are major discrepancies between a manager and employee's evaluations, human resources can provide additional support and mediation.
Self Assessment Tips for Employees
If you're preparing for a self assessment, try using the following tactics:
- Prepare notes. Document any topics you want to discuss, such as your strengths, weaknesses, and long term goals.
- Brainstorm examples. Be prepared to share concrete examples of how you have met goals set at the last review and how you've improved overall.
- Self-evaluate. Practice self-evaluation by giving yourself a mock performance review. This exercise will help you identify new strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and goals.
- Come with questions. A performance review should be a safe environment to ask questions. Preparing questions ahead of time can help you seek answers for any pressing challenges or issues.
7 Performance Review Comments to Avoid
For performance reviews to succeed, managers and employees alike should come prepared to discuss and reflect together.
However, managers have the authority to substantially affect their employees' careers—so it's their job to facilitate a civil and productive conversation.
Here are seven topics managers should avoid to keep things constructive:
- Criticism Without an Example: Giving an example and providing ideas for improvement can help an employee better their performance rather than leave them feeling defensive.
- Comparisons: This is not a space to rank employees or pit them against each other. Focus only on the performance of the employee you are evaluating.
- False Praise: While you should look for something positive to say in every performance review, giving false praise will only mislead an employee into thinking they are doing better than they are and rob them of the opportunity for improvement.
- Speculation: Sharing rumors about the company or raising hopes for a raise or promotion that may not be possible causes unnecessary speculation and sometimes disappointment.
- Repetitive Commentary: Some important things bear repeating, but if you find you are giving the same advice and same praise in every performance review, try changing things up. Maybe the message isn’t getting through in the way you are currently sharing it and needs further discussion. If both managers and employees keep notes of what’s talked about in performance reviews, you can build off of advice and goals from each meeting rather than rehash the same thing over and over again.
- “Always” and “Never”: There’s an exception to every rule. Ultimatums and blanket statements are rarely accurate and can make people feel defensive.
- “I Wish I Had More Time”: Performance reviews should be a priority for managers and employees. They help make sure everyone’s personal goals are aligned with the company’s goals and give valuable insights on ways the employee and the manager can improve. When performance reviews are put first, the entire company can benefit.
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Join Cassie Whitlock of BambooHR and Jack Altman of Lattice HQ and discover how performance management can be more comprehensive and impactful than a rushed yearly assessment.
A system that includes both frequent feedback and a thoughtful compensation plan will work to attract great hires, keep employees engaged, and develop internal talent for the future.