The primary purpose of an employee performance review is to improve an employee’s behavior and performance.  An important secondary purpose is to document the employee’s performance.  Here are five tips to help employers conduct effective employee performance reviews.

(1) Performance Reviews Should Occur Regularly:  Employees want feedback on their performance.  The closer in time the feedback is to the actual performance, the more effective the feedback will be.  Therefore, more frequent feedback will increase the effectiveness of such communication.  A combination of formal, regular written performance reviews with more frequent informal appraisals often works effectively.

(2) Performance Reviews Should Focus on Job-Related Performance And Should Be Objective, If Possible:  Performance reviews should be based on previously communicated and clearly understood expectations that are job-related.  No job description, however, can list all the job duties expected of an employee.  To the extent possible, explicit and objective measurable standards should be emphasized during performance reviews rather than subjective and vague discussion of performance. 

(3) Performance Reviews Should Allow for Employee Feedback:  Effective reviews and appraisals often include two-way communication regarding performance.  Employees should be given a means to respond to negative performance appraisals and to document any disagreements or concerns.

(4) Performance Reviews Should Identify Goals For Improvement:  Performance reviews should highlight both good and bad performance, but performance problems should be reviewed in detail.  Specific goals for improvement should be discussed, as well as what will happen if the employees do not meet their improvement goals.

(5) Performance Reviews Should Be Documented:  Employees should be asked to sign their performance reviews to acknowledge their receipt and understanding of them.  If an employee refuses to sign, the supervisor should note this fact, and sign and date the performance appraisal.