14 Tips to Make Performance Feedback an Integral Part of Growing Employees

It’s an event employees don’t look forward to experiencing and many supervisors cringe having to do. What is this common feared experience? It’s a performance review. There really is no reason for either party to feel bad about doing a performance review. If certain guidelines are followed, the process can be turned from a fearful event into a positive experience.

If you are the employee, keep copious notes of major projects that you are assigned and the results achieved. These project assignments are important in that the results you achieve impact your overall rating. Supervisors should also monitor projects assigned to employees. They have an obligation to be truthful to employees. Knowing exactly how well a job was done is critical to providing an honest assessment of performance.

Progressive institutions let employees complete their performance reviews and their rating is compared to the supervisor rating. This is an excellent way to check everyone’s thinking about job performance. The technique requires that everyone give the required attention to completing the review and to be ready for a “give and take” conversation.

Here are the fourteen steps that I used to make performance reviews with multiple employees over my 27 years in senior management corporate positions. The process proved to work for the benefit of both employee and manager. Also, by following a consistent manner of reviewing performance, this dramatically reduces the possibility of an employee bringing charges of unfair practices to your company. Here is how it works:


  1. Provide a copy of the form to each employee and have them complete the form. This opens the door for agreement and/or disagreement on an evaluation point. But it also places the need for strong documentation on the part of the evaluator.


  1. Provide sufficient advance notice to the employees on when the review will take place.  This allows them time to prepare as well.


  1. The setting should be private, non-threatening, comfortable and free of interruptions.  The process should not be rushed. Allow sufficient time so both parties can thoroughly cover every point of concern.


  1. Supervisors conducting the review should be very well prepared and have notes on their talking points. This is not a time to adlib. Make it a positive event by being considerate with words and mannerism. Tact is as important as honestly. But remember that truthfulness should never be compromised.


  1. Don’t generalize with your comments. Be very specific. Beating around the bush is a wasted exercise that profits no one. Workers are entitled to know exactly why you rated them as you did. If you use a numerical rating scale, provide input to help employees reach the maximum possible rating on each point that is less than the top rating.


  1. Appraise the job, as it should be performed. If no job description exists, this task is difficult. Progressive supervisors have thorough job descriptions for every employee. That becomes the standard upon which reviews are based.


  1. Have employees list what they consider to be their top five job functions. Supervisors should do the same. During the review, compare notes. This can be a very revealing activity that will bring clarity to job expectations following the review process. This need not be repeated in the future unless job functions and/or responsibilities changed since the last review period.


  1. Employees should have the opportunity to share their thoughts on your commentary. This is not a one-way conversation. Active listening on the part of both parties is also important during this process.


  1. Ask open-ended questions such as how they feel about their work, what they might suggest to make it more pleasant, or how they see their future growth pattern.


  1. At the end of the process, the supervisor should present a well-developed list of action steps that address areas needing improvement. This becomes the training model until the next review. Be supportive of this process by allowing time for these activities to be done prior to the next review. There is no purpose for proposing a growth plan and then not allowing the plan to be implemented. If the employee brings up a good suggestion for training, adding it to the list can be a strong motivator for the employee to buy into the entire plan.


  1. Close the process by making sure the employee thoroughly understands every point reviewed and the improvement plan presented. Make the end a friendly and positive closing.


  1. Following closure, the supervisor must carry out follow-up activities to each step of the proposed improvement plan. Failing to track activities assigned will lower your leadership credibility. Never forget the power of the follow-up.


  1. Don’t wait until next year to provide feedback on performance. That should be an ongoing process each day a worker is present. “Piling on” once a year can be a very d e –motivating moment. Consistent and fair evaluation of employee performance on a daily basis and keeping copious notes on everyone is a sure way to end performance review fears.


  1. Finally, constantly evaluate how well you’ve performed the review and always strive to make the next session better.


If there are high stress levels in workers when their work is reviewed or if the process used is very casual and non-specific, adaptation of the steps described in this article can be a positive change. Make your review process professional and positive. Workers deserve no less and supervisors should do no less.


Billy Arcement, MEd is a Professional Speaker, Leadership Strategist and President of The Results Group. He wrote the book, Searching for Success, now internationally published. He co-authored, Journeying on Holy Ground—Christian Strategies to Reach Your Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Destiny.   ©2012. All rights reserved. Use by permission.