Let’s cut to the chase.  Why do we dislike – and avoid – employee reviews?

They are awkward. Take too much time. Yields no results or changes. Don’t know how.

Have you heard (or said?) that before?

Employee performance appraisal systems (the dreaded annual review) tend to get a bad rap. After all, who hasn’t heard about — or experienced — a bad performance appraisal?

At worst, an annual review can feel like an ambush, a morale killer or a complete waste of time for staff. But when we do this correctly, effective performance appraisals can empower your team and improve your group’s ability to fulfill its mission.

A clear, thoughtful and consistent employee appraisal system can help your organization:


Folks, it’s rough to be reviewed on your job description!  Especially that seven-page tome, the one that’s single spaced in 10-point font that also says “other duties as assigned”?  Make sure you actually set performance objectives – annual goals for each employee at the beginning of the evaluation period.  These are derived from the employee job description and help focus your staff’s work during the course of the year.  Performance objectives help focus time on critical areas of work, and have metrics, deadlines and benchmarks that employees are to meet during the year. This will help focus the appraisal and align you and your employees perceptions.


Before you create an employee performance appraisal system, consider what’ll work best for your organization. Things to consider:


Once you’ve settled on the basics, create an evaluation form. The form should include:

Attach the employee’s current job description (preferably, their performance objectives) to the evaluation form. When completing the form, provide concrete examples of what an employee does well or needs to work on.

Also, make sure all of your employee(s) understand your performance appraisal system, are trained in how to use it and realize its importance to your organization. Managers who aren’t confident in how to conduct performance appraisals aren’t likely to effectively identify what an employee can do to develop and grow.


To make the most of your employee performance appraisal system, engage your employees in thoughtful discussion about their work and experiences during the review period. Managers should schedule time with each employee to:

Nothing  managers discuss with your employee(s) during a review should come as a surprise. To do their best work, your employee(s) need coaching and specific feedback on their performance year-round, not just at review time. Regular meetings—like  weekly one-on-ones—are recommended between the annual reviews.  Why?  This regular time with you supports ongoing efforts toward goal achievement.  This regular feedback gives adequate time for performance improvement, if needed. Plus, when your employees know where they stand, both of you won’t dread their annual performance review. You’ll actually look forward to it.

Need more tips? Check out my blog posts Find the Positive in Employee Evaluations or Personnel Documents for more administrative guidance. Need some help putting together this process for your team?  Give me a shout or book a call with me.