How a Performance Review Can be a Positive Experience for You and the Employee

Person writing in a book with a pen, while sitting in front of a laptop at a desk.

Performance reviews should be embraced as an exciting opportunity to learn and grow. I know, you’re probably laughing hysterically at this point. Trust me, they are really good for you and your employees.

If conducted properly, both the employee and supervisor almost always report their experience as beneficial and positive.

If you approach it with the right attitude you can use this opportunity to build a strong connection with employees individually and build up company morale. Here are a few rules to make the dreaded review a positive experience.

There Should Be No Surprises

The best way to make your experience a good one is to do it all year round. Your employee’s shouldn’t be nervous to enter a review with you because they should already have an idea of what you’re going to say. Confident employees receive regular feedback on their work and contributions, good or bad. They will consistently work to correct any issues once they are aware, so there shouldn’t be any shocking information unearthed during the review.

Make Sure You Are Prepared for the Performance Review

Have specific examples of the behavior you want to address, whether it’s good or bad behavior. Have a conversation about how the employee could have treated the situation better or differently. Don’t leave out the good stuff! Give specific examples of successful projects or moments that the employee’s actions really stood out to you.

Being well prepared will help you both have a positive experience. The review can motivate employees, but also runs the risk of demoralizing them by nit-picking. Try not to do this, you hired the people who you believe are the best fit for your company and their position. If they consistently aren’t living up to expectations, it may be a recruiting or hiring issue rather than an issue with the specific employee.

Put on Your Game Face

Before the performance review, give your employee a self evaluation and ask them to evaluate you as well. You’re really busy and sometimes it’s tough keeping track of every employee. Looking over their own review on their own performance might help jog your memory. Plus, it’s a great way to start the conversation. Performance reviews should be a two-way street. You should ask for feedback too. Although, you might have more luck gaining honest information if you offer an anonymous survey on your performance to all employees simultaneously.

Talk About Moving Forward

Stay positive and try not to linger on too many negative points. Discuss the next steps you’d like to see happen. Bring up goals for the coming year, expectations, areas of improvement and long-term plans. Your employee should leave with a list of things to mull-over. End the review on a positive note and remember the goal here is to motivate your employees for the coming year.

Person, dressed in black, standing in front of a blue lake with mountains on the other side of the lake. Title - know where you stand


One way to prevent any issues beforehand is to ensure you have a current and thorough employee handbook. This is critical for you to hold employees to certain standards, policies, and norms. A well-written job description will also provide a reference point when you have to refer back to these expectations that were set early on.

At the end of the day, having a hit list of items both you and the employee can work on is incredibly helpful. We fear what we don’t know. Performance reviews are great for discovering exactly where you stand. Yes, it can sting at first, but it will lead to decreased anxiety, and clear paths to improvement.

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