Preparing for Performance Reviews

The key to writing effective performance review is in the preparation. Good preparation makes it more likely that the review accurately reflects the employee’s performance for the review period. It also increases the chance that employee has positive performance review experience.

Preparation Tips

Explain Performance Review Process

  • When new employees start, make sure they understand how their performance will be measured.
  • With existing employees, occasionally revisit performance expectations so they are clear on what is being measured in the performance review.

Provide Additional Training and Support

  • At the unit or department level, have an overall communication plan that explains both the timing and details of how the performance review process works.
  • Schedule kickoff meetings to review important details about performance review before process starts.

Follow the Rule of No Surprises

  • Make sure to provide each employee informal feedback throughout the year so they know how they are performing.
  • Ask employees to do self-reviews so they have a chance to give input or rate their own performance for the review period.

Document Performance

To properly assess performance it is helpful to have a record of the employee’s performance throughout the year. Therefore, it’s important to collect performance information such as:

  • Your own handwritten or typed notes on topics including:
    • Feedback or coaching conversations
    • Discussion with employee about performance
    • Your observations of the employee:
      • Doing his/her work
      • In one-on-one meetings or large group discussions
  • Examples of completed work or items generated as a result of work including:
    • Work products such as reports, presentations, project plans, or work samples.
    • Important campus, college, department, or unit statistics related to the employee’s work such as phone calls taken, classes taught, or students served.
    • Information from clients such as surveys or interviews.
    • Specials awards, recognition or thank your notes/emails.
  • Feedback from those impacted by employee’s work
  • Your employee’s data
    • Ask them for ideas about how to keep you informed.
    • Schedule regular status meetings with them to talk about performance.
    • Make it an expectation that employees share examples of their work with you on a regular basis.
    • The Office of Human Resources has developed the Employee Input Form for Evaluating Performance (pdf) to help managers collect performance information from employees.

Be descriptive in written comments

To explain ratings, as well as provide employees performance and development assistance, performance reviews typically provide space for managers to write comments. Here are some suggestions for making written comments more descriptive:

  • Focus on behavior
    • A behavior is a description of performance that can be seen or heard. Examples:
      • You volunteered to complete Sara’s part of the project.
      • You interrupted the client during the meeting.
    • Behaviors provide a clearer picture of performance for the employee and make it easier for them to see what aspects of performance need to be stopped, adjusted, or continued
  • Include examples of performance
    • Examples of performance provide details that make it more likely the employee can recall the situation. Examples:
      • The three reports you created in June were well researched.
      • You did not attend both the spring and fall quarter department meetings.
    • Examples also provide concrete illustrations of performance patterns or work outcomes. In situations where performance isn’t satisfactory, this can lessen the likelihood that the employee disagrees with constructive comments
  • Provide suggestions for maintaining or improving performance
    • The performance review is an opportunity for you to share your knowledge, experience, and expertise with your employees.
    • For employees who need to improve performance, your suggestions provide guidance on how to handle similar situations in the future. Examples:
      • In the future I’d like you to use your strong influencing skills to move the meeting along.
      • Going forward I’d like you to put more energy into identifying solutions.
  • Describe what success looks like
    • To perform well, employees need to know what successful performance looks like or that they are making progress.
    • Some employees, especially those with less experience, can have a difficult time defining these things so they will need your help. Examples:
      • You know you have made progress if customer complaints go down.
      • You know you have fixed the problem if you get fewer questions from students about the enrollment process.