An overview of performance reviews

Nick Mok
A performance review or evaluation is a formal systematic assessment of an employee's performance over a period of time, the timing of which is at the discretion of the employer, but generally takes place a year into the employee's time with the company.

Aims and why they're important

Ultimately, the objective of having a formal performance evaluation after a period of time is to further employee development and to assess their performance over that period of time. It can also be an opportunity for employees to appraise their superiors, allowing a clear channel of communication that can help reduce power imbalance within the workplace. That communication between employer and employee can help the company in identifying problem areas, as well as finding ways to further employees' individual improvement. Furthermore, having a performance evaluation allows for recognition of top performers, and can help determine which employees are under-performing.  

How can they be improved?

-    Clear goals and objectives will help in ensuring both employers and employees have a clear understanding as to what needs to be achieved. Use SMART goals if possible – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

-    If employees are allowed to communicate their opinions and concerns, it creates a healthy atmosphere of co-operation between supervisor and subordinate.

-    Whether or not the performance evaluation will be linked to changes in pay or dismissals should be known to the employees beforehand. Then, during the review, ensure that any decisions you choose to make can be backed up with evidence. For example, if the employee's salary is to increase, have examples of their work and achievements.

-    While there is no "perfect" method for performance evaluations, adapting to your employees and environment can be hugely beneficial. For example, advisory or consulting employees can have a "mini" review after major clients, and a formal review every year or so.

-    Tweaking the evaluation and making changes as necessary will help the system become fairer and better.

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