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Are you gearing up for year-end reviews but don’t have enough time to do a complete 180° assessment or overhaul of your performance processes?

Here are 5 things you can do today to increase the value of year-end reviews exponentially!


1. Communicate the ‘Why’

Before you pull-up last year’s company ‘review reminder email’ and hit ‘send’, give it a quick once-over this year. Look at the focus of the email and ensure it isn’t all about due dates and documents. Many employees don’t find the review process valuable, so this is a good chance to inform/remind them why your company is allocating time towards this important process.

Re-Word any emails or instructions to move the most important employee/manager benefits to the top, and then add due dates and expectations at the bottom. This way, your workforce is more likely to see the value in it for them. In our Performance Management Change Management Guide that we provide to our clients, we recommend that companies phrase their communication to:

  1. convey the purpose & usefulness of reviews
  2. be transparent in how results will be used
  3. ensure staff know how to use/submit any reviews
  4. define due dates and expectations

‘It’s time to share your accomplishments!’ Is a much more appealing intro than ‘Reviews are due’.


2. Take a Look at Your Rating Scales

Even the best performance reviews can be ruined with the wrong rating scales. Look at your review rating scales for any content or sections to ensure they are tied to what is being rated, easy to interpret, won’t detract from the discussion, and will leave you with useful reporting. We have compiled our suggestions into a great Rating Scale Guidebook you can download here. Quick fixes include hiding numeric ratings, replacing goal-based ratings with a status scale, removing ratings that don’t add value, and including a description of rating scales in the instructions.


3. Ask Employees to Self-Assess

If you aren’t already involving your employees in the review process, we recommend getting them in there…quickly. Giving employees a chance to reflect on their own performance and actively contribute to the process will increase the value for everyone involved and might reveal some interesting opportunities that would have been otherwise hidden with a one-sided review. Allow employees to review all competencies, goals, notes and feedback as well as add accomplishments, request input, and provide an account of their perceived areas of strength. Employees won’t be the only ones happy about it – managers will find it easier to provide their own comments and ratings, and HR will be able to identify any large gaps in perceived performance prior to any formal review meetings.


4. Prepare Managers for Giving Feedback and Conducting Effective Meetings

Don’t just assume your company’s managers are equipped to give recognition and constructive feedback. In fact, most managers find that process stressful. If managers are given guidance and expectations on writing comments, delivering feedback, and conducting effective review meetings, employees are more likely to get value from the process. What can HR do? We see many of our clients host lunch and learn sessions for managers where they provide guidance and examples. If time is tight, then even a detailed email to managers would provide the assistance they need. Here are some great resources you can share with them:


5. Keep the Momentum Going

A lot of planning and energy is going to come from reviews and review meetings. Managers and employees will discuss goals for the upcoming review cycle, might plan training and development activities, and could even discuss promotions and career trajectories. Unfortunately, these plans and discussions often fade quickly to make way for competing projects. To keep momentum going and help ensure your company is coming through on any promises, we recommend the following:

  •  Adding a section to your review form that allows for the documentation and planning for the year ahead. This could be a simple comment box, or a formal goal-setting section – the idea is to make sure the focus of the review and meeting is to look forward and document any expectations and plans.
  • Allocating time each month or quarter for employees and managers to meet to ensure these plans are alive and on-track. Encouraging frequent check-ins will let employees know that year-end reviews are not a one-time event and that feedback, plans and support will be provided when needed.
  • Encourage employees and managers to keep detailed accounts of performance starting in the new year. Give them a template, a portal, or a software tool like emPerform tag™ for making notes and sharing feedback so they can discuss trends and support discussions with examples.


While these relatively smaller changes may not transform your entire performance management process, they will add immense value to your company’s year-end reviews. By communicating the value of reviews, editing any vague rating scales, allowing employees to weigh-in on their performance, giving managers help with effective feedback, and shifting the review to a forward-looking discussion, you will have made huge strides towards adding perceived value to your company’s year-end reviews.



See how companies just like yours are streamlining performance reviews & ongoing performance management with emPerform. Book your demo today.