Performance Reviews.  Some dread them. Some revere them.  Some companies live and die by them. Sometimes they fall woefully short of providing what they are supposed to, which is help the employee remain exemplary, or, in some cases, become exemplary. Some companies don’t even hold performance reviews anymore.

If your company conducts these types of reviews, here are some words of wisdom to make it a successful project.


There is nothing worse than expecting a performance review at your work anniversary and not receiving it. This is especially true if a pay raise is attached to it.  Many employees don’t receive enough continual feedback to know where they stand. As a result, the annual review becomes talismanic.  It is what they need to feel assured they are doing well, and, of course, there may be a raise.

Best practice: Hold annual reviews 30-60 days out from the anniversary date, or year end, if your company does performance reviews based on the calendar year. This allows time to implement any changes with workload and compensation. It also makes the employee feel valued.


best practices for a performance review

The performance review should be specific. Address issues that have come up and discuss plans to change them. Let the employee share their solutions on how to do that.  Don’t just focus on the issues — address the positives too. Praise the good and provide details:  “John, the software implementation you led was completed on time and under budget.  Great work!”

Address the opportunities for improvement, and, again, be detailed:  “John, the software implementation you led was finished late and ran $2,500 over budget. What steps will you take in future to avoid a reoccurrence?”

Being precise in performance reviews ensures employees know where they stand, what your expectations are, and that they are valued for their contributions. Being vague leaves room for misunderstanding and frustration — on both sides.

Pursue (Perform)

Follow up on the changes (if any).  Performance reviews, even if only done once per year, are really an on-going process. Continue to praise good work over the course of the year. If progress is not being made, address that. If compensation is tied to performance, its important to have deadlines in place so that both the company and the employee have clear expectations. Execution and accountability are key.

NAE has an experienced team that can help you create your performance reviews, discuss best practices, and assist you with difficult performance issues. Did you know? NAE has many great resources — including templates, sample forms, and how-to guides — on our Member Portal to assist with these sometimes difficult employment issues. Login to access these member-exclusive resources or contact us today to discuss your questions and/or concerns.