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Perfecting Your Performance Review

Perfecting your Performance Review

A Guide for a Productive Performance Review Season for both Managers & Employees

The performance review season is just around the corner…And, while this can be an opportunity for employees to share their accomplishments and distinguish themselves from their co-workers, it can also be an extremely trivial time of the year, for both managers and employees.

As a manager, the task of conducting performance reviews tends to be rather cumbersome. You are responsible for delivering annual evaluations for all your employees, consuming the weeks before these reviews with research & analysis on every individual within your organization. While this process is essential for determining how well an employee performed throughout the year, and an opportunity to provide feedback and determine future goals, this annual expectation is also one of the most dreaded & daunting administrative processes that HR manages.

For most employees, this is an opportunity to prove your worth to your boss and get a leg up in your career, but with these reviews come the added stress of acknowledging weaknesses and setting productive goals for the upcoming year. End of the day, the pressure of performance review season tends to be draining and nerve-wracking time of the year for the entire organization.

It doesn’t matter if you are a manager tasked to prepare and deliver these reviews or an employee eager to share your accomplishments or ask for a raise, one thing is for sure – preparation is keyNo matter your role in the performance review process, it is important that you come to your performance review ready, so here are some tips for both employees and managers to prepare you for the upcoming performance review season.

Preparing for the Review


Being prepared for a performance review is not something that should be done the night before, rather a continual process throughout the year. Keep a portfolio of the work you do throughout the year as you are doing it, opposed to trying to throw it together the week before. Take notes on each project; list your accomplishments and mistakes. Be prepared to talk about not only the good, but the weaknesses you want to strengthen. What have you learned from your mistakes and what changes will you make to avoid making the same ones again? Trying to sit down and write all this up a week before your review can be daunting and overwhelming,’re likely to forget a lot of important details.

Be ready to talk about the year that just finished and the year ahead. Do you think you deserve a raise? Come with a list of accomplishments and be prepared to talk about all of your successes over the previous year. Most importantly, come with a list of new goals, so your manager knows what to expect from you over the next 12 months. Be realistic, yet ambitious.

Be prepared to receive feedback, both positive and negative and be prepared to own up to your mistakes and offer a solution or show initiative to do better. Prepare yourself for a tough conversation, because no matter how “good” or “bad” your review actually is, the conversation is never easy!

Managing Review Season


For a manager, preparing for an annual performance review starts with the job description. Employee expectations should be clearly spelled out before the job even start and be sure to discuss these expectations and goals with them regularly.  If expectations change (which they frequently do), the employee shouldn’t be the last to know, and feedback should be a continual process throughout the year. Employees deserve (and need) both positive & negative feedback on a regular basis in order to perform to your standards.  Make sure your feedback is timely opposed to coming with a lengthy list of “should’ves, could’ves & would’ves” come year-end.

Keep a record of employee performance and behaviors throughout the entire year, because come year-end, there is no way for you to remember ALL the details of EVERY EMPLOYEE’s accomplishments and/or mistakes from the past 12 months. Don’t base a review on recent memory; it is just not fair, and that is exactly what you will do if you fail to keep proper records of your employees throughout the year. This can be easily accomplished by keeping a folder on each employee that includes everything from performance reports, a list of accomplishments and critiques, a summary of conversations, notes of good & bad behaviors that you encounter throughout the year, attendance records, and  any goals & expectations you have.  Be sure to update the employee folder as the performance or behavior is forefront in your mind and not just a summary based on memory at the end of the year.

In preparation for the review, solicit feedback from customers, co-workers, other managers, and even the employee themselves. Have employees that a self-assessment that you can review before the formal sit-down. This way you can prepare for things you may not have been aware of and have better insight into the employees' expectations from the review before the conversation even happens.

In fact, I would even go so far as to share your notes with each of the employees before the review. No one wants to walk into an important conversation blindly, so the best way to prepare yourself is to prepare your employees. Share your notes ahead of time so you can both enter the formal review on the same page and make the most of your time together.

And finally, the last but most important tip I can offer to a manager at a performance review is to Listen. Listen. Listen! This is – and should be - a two-way conversation! As a manager, you are NOT a judge and your employee is NOT on trial. Make sure you are facilitating open dialogue and that you are ACTIVELY LISTENING and engaging in the conversation.

All said and done, if both the manager and employee follow these processes everything should go pretty smoothly...but being prepared is critical! Elevate BDG is here to help get you and your team ready for performace review season by offering $500 OFF when you pair Performance Management with one of our featured Performance Review Prep Courses.


$500 OFF

when you pair Performance Management with one of our featured
Performance Review Prep Courses (below)

  • Stress Management
  • Communicate with Tact, Diplomacy, and Professionalism
  • HR Law for Supervisors
  • Time Management
  • Handling Difficult Conversations
  • Active Listening

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This article was written by Tara Scheing of Elevate Business Development Group. Tara has been managing the digital marketing and writing articles on professional development & business training with Elevate BDG since it’s inception and lives in Southern Oregon with her husband and two young sons. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at or contact her directly at 

Elevate Business Development Group is a workforce management, training, and consulting company serving government agencies (federal, state, local), non-profits, and private industry. Our programs make staff, managers, and executives more effective contributors to the workplace by assessing knowledge gaps and crafting tailored solutions. Elevate BDG offers on-site and virtual training, coaching, mentoring, and creative off-site training offerings in 200+ topics. Our “off-the-shelf” solutions can be tailored to meet your organization’s needs or our instructional designers can create a program from scratch to meet your exact specifications.