Proven Best Tips on Performance Appraisals for Employees

Regular performance reviews are an important element of employee performance management. In this article, we share 13 proven tips to get more out of your performance appraisals for employees, ensuring everyone is motivated and your time is effective.

For many people, both managers and employees alike, the employee performance review process can be stressful and something both parties try to delay. But the session doesn’t have to be tense or uncomfortable.

With some careful consideration and planning, the whole process can be empowering and positive, rather than a ‘necessary evil’ of human resource duties.

The three main phases of effective reviews

There are three main phases to an effective employee performance review. These are;


Making sure you have the information at hand before the meeting.


Ensuring a positive, two way feedback process between management and employees.

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A clear understanding on the next steps, goals and performance in the future.

In this article, we will step through each of these stages, with further thoughts on what works to maximize the effectiveness of your employee review process.

best tips on performance appraisals for employees

Photo: Richard Rutter, Flickr


Before the review day, there is some work to be done. Here are four ways I believe you can get more productive and helpful employee reviews occurring.

Have a regular employee review cycle

To get the most from your team, you need to give regular feedback. As such, performance reviews should never be just an annual event. We conduct ours every 3-4 months, and I highly recommend you consider doing the same. They don’t need to be long and boring – an hour usually suffices, and depending on the size of your team, you can space them out to every week or two, if you have 10-20 in your direct management.

Ensure your employees understand what will be covered

Writing an agenda or sending a copy of any review documentation prior to the day, can help settle nerves and ensure the employee is as well prepared as you are. The last thing you wish to do is spring something on them, which puts people under pressure, and won’t be as productive as the meeting could possibly be.

In our organisation, we have a set four page performance review form, that everyone has access to; saving time and trouble.

Don’t save your feedback for the next performance review

The employee should never hear about positive performance or performance in need of improvement for the first time at your formal performance discussion meeting, unless it is new information or insight.

Effective managers discuss both positive performance and areas for improvement regularly, even daily or weekly. Aim to make the contents of the performance review discussion a re-emphasis of critical points.

Use performance notes to simplify the employee review preparation

If you’re relying solely on your memory when preparing for an employee review, you are making employee performance evaluation far more difficult than it needs to be.

If there is something you notice between reviews, take note of it; both the good and the bad. If required, discuss it immediately with the employee whilst it is fresh in everyones minds, otherwise at least keep the note, and refer to them at the next performance meeting.


It’s the big day! These tips on performance appraisals for employees focus on the day itself. A little planning and preparation ensures your reviews go smoothly for both manager and employee. Here are some tips on performance appraisals for employees that will make the meeting less pressure for all concerned.

Make it less formal

An employee performance review is always a daunting meeting for both employee and manager. Providing honest feedback is potentially confrontational, and can make the recipient uncomfortable. One way to avoid this is make it less formal; choose a nice area to have the discussion, and focus on the positives as much as the perceived negatives.

The spirit in which you approach this conversation will make a difference in whether it is effective. If your intention is genuinely to help the employee improve, and you have a positive relationship with the employee, the conversation is easier and more effective.

Your employee has to trust that you want to help them improve their performance. They need to hear you say that you have confidence in his or her ability to improve.

Making the performance review meeting less of a formal chore, and more of a discussion between colleagues reduces the recipients stress, and makes things far more casual. As a result, you’ll find both parties are more receptive to the other parties views.

Ask the employee to assess themselves first

If you ask someone to grade themselves, you will quickly find that most people are harder on themselves than you would expect.

By asking the employee to assess their own performance, you will discover more than you had known, and will open various areas of discussion that may have been harder if you were to raise them yourself.

Keep a note of what they say, and make sure they agree with your version of the discussion.

Ask the right questions

You should aim to encourage the employee to talk more than yourself, and by asking the right questions, this can really help.

Examples of good conversation starters, include;

  • What tools or support can I, the manager, provide you, to help you reach your full potential?
  • What are your hopes for achievements within your team this year?
  • Do you feel you receive enough feedback about your performance?
  • Do you feel the level of engagement within your team is as good as it could be?
  • How do you rate the morale within the organisation at the moment?

These types of questions will encourage your employee to open up more about how they feel, and what they require to be as productive as possible.

best tips on performance appraisals for employees

Photo: Jeff Djevdet, Flickr

Refer to employee survey results

If you use a weekly or monthly employee engagement survey tool, and the responses are not anonymous, you can refer to the employees feedback an ratings. In the case that the survey is anonymous, sharing overall scores and feedback is still a very useful tool to open a more genuine, honest conversation.

Be clear on expectations

One area often overlooked is to ensure that you clearly explain yours and the businesses  expectations, and that the employee understands this.

It seems obvious, however asking an employee to confirm they understand the position description or any performance feedback should highlight any miscommunication issues.

Avoid negative words or phrases

When you discuss the performance of an employee, you should be careful to avoid using negative or vague language. Comments such as ‘your work is sloppy’ would be better stated as ‘Your recent performance could have been improved by ensuring you did this task on time’.

Certain phrases can even open yourself for your organisation to potential law suits, so be very careful when choosing your words.

Never use the word “attitude” when discussing performance – comment and keep your feedback on actual performance, not intangible personality traits.


The meeting is over, however your work hasn’t quite ended. Follow these tips on performance appraisals for employees, to get more out of your post-review process.

Set the date for the next review

Consistency is key, so it’s a great idea to make a time and day for the next review at the end of your current performance meeting. We recommend no less than every four months, to get the most value out of these reviews.

Share the goals you’ve both agreed on for the next period

It’s one task writing down any set goals during the meeting, it’s another to ensure you follow up. An email afterwards with a list of dot points for action items over the next couple of months reiterates the need to achieve these.

Provide a copy of the notes

In fact, I go so far as offering to give my copy of the notes, so the employee can refer to what was said after the event. This saves in any ‘she said, he said’ later, and ensures both manager and employee are on the same page.

tips on performance appraisals for employees

Photo: Brady, Flickr


I hope you find these 13 tips on performance appraisals for employees useful in preparing and running your future employee reviews. Remember the three stages;

  • Preparation
  • Conversation
  • Confirmation

I wish you the best of luck with your future performance evaluation processes!

Miles Burke

Miles Burke

Miles is the founder of 6Q. He is passionate about peer-to-peer recognition, company culture, employee engagement and wants every workplace to be the happiest it can be. Miles is also MD of Bam Creative, an author and public speaker.