When done correctly and effectively, employee performance reviews and good performance management processes can motivate staff, drive results, align the entire company, and improve success and morale. However, inconsistent performance reviews that are confusing, subjective, and open to bias can throw a wrench into the entire thing – making the review process a negative and de-motivating exercise and leaving the company with untrustworthy data to use for decision-making. 

Performance calibration is a process where tools that collect quantitative metrics are set up and analyzed effectively to portray accurate performance data across the enterprise. In most companies, this quantitative data is collected using performance reviews. Performance calibration helps employees by providing consistent, clear, and realistic performance expectations and effective, unbiased feedback and scores across all groups. Performance calibration also allows companies to feel assured they can trust the performance data collected and lean on it to make decisions regarding the performance health of their talent.  

In this blog post, we will discuss the steps involved in calibrating employee performance reviews effectively so you can augment what you might already be doing and ensure you have consistency in your reviews. 

Step #1 of Calibration: Establishing a Baseline & Threshold for Performance & Expectations

The first step in calibrating employee performance is to establish a baseline of performance. This can be done by setting expectations for what you want employees to achieve and then measuring their actual performance against these goals. It is important to note that this process should not be rushed, as it will take time for your company and leaders to set clear and actionable goals and for employees to adapt to the new standards. 

Once you have a baseline of performance, the next step is to establish thresholds. Thresholds are the minimum acceptable levels of performance that must be met for employees to continue working at your company or for teams and the organization to operate successfully. Establishing thresholds can be difficult, as they may vary depending on the role or position within the company. However, it is important to have a clear understanding of what is expected from each employee to maintain productivity and avoid confusion. 

Step #2 of Calibration: Create a Plan for Monitoring Results

After you have set goals and established thresholds, the next step is to create a plan for collecting and monitoring performance results. This plan should include the steps that will be taken to ensure employees are meeting their goals and staying within the acceptable threshold levels. The plan should also outline how often employee performance will be reviewed and assessed and who will be responsible for conducting these reviews. Finally, a large portion of this plan is to establish and agree to acceptable forms of measurement or rating scales that will allow you to monitor the status of goals and performance without being de-motivating to staff. See also, rating scale guidebook

After the plan is set, regular touchpoints should be conducted to ensure employees are aware of how they are performing and for employees and evaluators to adjust any goals or thresholds as needed. It is important to note that employee performance management should not be a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process. By regularly measuring and calibrating employee performance, you can ensure that everyone in the company is working towards the same goal and meeting the same standards.

Step #3 of Calibration: Continuous Improvement

Once you have calibrated employee performance, it is important to continue to improve and refine the process. This can be done by setting new goals, establishing higher thresholds, or creating different plans for monitoring employee results. The goal is to make sure that employees are constantly challenged and striving to reach their fullest potential. 

Frequently Used Tools for Calibrating Employee Performance Reviews

There are a variety of tools that can be used to calibrate employee performance. The most common tool is the performance appraisal, which is a review of an employee’s job performance and typically takes place annually, with smaller checkpoints happening regularly throughout the year. Performance reviews should be crafted with content and tools to help avoid common appraisal biases that may result in performance reviews producing inaccurate results. It is useful for the company to decide on set goals, skills, or other performance criteria that will be used as a measure of performance, and invest in ensuring they are specific to each role, and defined clearly for employees.

While the most common tool for calibrating employee performance is the performance appraisal, it is important to note that this process should not be limited to this one method. There are a variety of tools that can be used to ensure all aspects of performance and output are being considered. 

360-degree assessments and peer feedback are also great tools for calibrating employee performance. With this type of multi-faceted input, employees receive additional feedback from peers, managers, and team members. This helps to get a more holistic view of employee performance and can help identify areas in which they need improvement. 

Finally, the nine-box is a tool that is often used to calibrate employee performance. This tool is used to assess employee potential relative to the company or a group and can help identify high-performing employees as well as those who may need additional development.

Through calibration, you can ensure that your employees are meeting the standards of your company and helping to achieve its goals and are also motivated to perform within realistic thresholds. By taking the time to establish a baseline, set thresholds, and create a plan for monitoring results, you can make sure that employee performance is accurately calibrated and everyone in the company is working towards the same goal. 

Employee reviews before you know it With employee performance reviews coming up soon for many, we wanted to let you know that we are here to help!

emPerform can have you up and running with simple & intuitive online appraisals plus added functionality to help save you time & unnecessary administrative tasks PLUS built in tools to help you get strategic about your year-round talent management processes.

How can we help? Flexible online appraisal forms, SMART goal management, templates, 360° reviews, easy pay for performance, social feedback & reporting – all in one super easy to use package for the best value- guaranteed.

Get started before employee reviews sneak up again: watch our  5 minute tour video or schedule a demonstration.

What are you using for appraisals and performance management? Paper? Spreadsheets? Fax? A tediously formatted document that employees and managers don’t want to use? A makeshift in-house system designed by your IT department as an attempt to solve your appraisal nightmares? Nothing at all? Any of these answers wouldn’t surprise us.

Our close contact with HR professionals gives us access to plenty of horror stories. And too many of these stories are about outdated (pre-emPerform!) management strategies for appraisals and overall performance documents.

We admit we’ve seen some pretty crafty solutions, including meticulously formatted spreadsheet forms with umpteen versions floating around and some very ‘attractive’ and buggy intranet-based IT web forms. Over and over again, we see a focus on executing the process and very little time and focus left over for strategic performance management tasks and analysis. So what are some key indicators that it’s time to ditch your current processes and modernize?

21 Signs you Need emPerform: Read More

Top 10If you are a manager or HR specialist who has been hammering away at the same annual employee evaluation process year after year but don’t seem to be getting measurable results, you might be doing any of three things wrong. First, you may be using a method that doesn’t suit your business model. Second, you may be using a software platform that doesn’t suit your goals, or finally, you may be making some of the following appraisal mistakes. emPerform is counting down the top 10 appraisal mistakes: Read More

accelerateShift gears and start accelerating your review processes.

The days of tracking down reviews and sorting through files and spreadsheets are over! emPerform serves up powerful and proven performance management software to automate reviews and take your organization’s talent strategy to the next level.

Get appraisals completed properly and on-time with emPerform: unlimited online appraisal forms, email & task reminders, real-time status reports & dashboards, writing assistance tools, industry-leading reporting & metrics, custom rating scales & workflows, content libraries, SMART goal management, and year-round social feedback and journaling!

emPerform is the best value in online performance management software – Guaranteed and comes standard with more than just appraisal forms. For less than what most vendors charge for a single module, emPerform delivers the tools needed for a winning performance management strategy; including tools for managers, cost-saving benefits for executives, and of course, automated and easy-to-use tools for HR:

  • succession planning & the nine-box
  • 360 peer reviews
  • easy pay-for-performance
  • integration with HRIS & payroll
  • multi-lingual capabilities
  • + training is included

Contact us to see how easy it can be to start accelerating employee reviews.

Test Drive emPerform

“With emPerform, employees are much more involved in their appraisal and our management team can focus on monitoring and improving our employees’ development towards their goals.” Ashley Hinge, Training and Development Manager – Toyota Financial Services

It’s not hard for good managers to find reasons to praise their employees. After all, the company is built on their hard work, and they come in every day and throw their hearts into projects that make the manager look good in front of their bosses and shareholders. Most managers appreciate every hour their employees put in and every investment they make in company success.

But negative feedback is another thing altogether. For most of us, criticizing our employees takes years off of our lives, and we dread the moment when our face-to-face evaluation meetings turn in this direction.

If you feel this way at evaluation time, recognize that you’re not alone. All managers struggle with this task. (If they enjoy it, they’re terrible managers.) And second, recognize that negative feedback serves a Read More


If you’re an experienced HR pro, you know how review season typically begins. You start nudging your managers to launch the review process. Your managers, in turn, start nudging their staff to complete self-evaluations. And for a few days, eye contact is dodgy and the air is filled with tense jokes. Then review sessions take place amid an atmosphere of shared embarrassment and everybody walks away from the process with a sigh of relief. Another year is in the bag. Perceptions of performance, good or bad, have been laid bare. Goals have been established, and a new cycle begins. Those who need to work harder have been counseled, and those who are doing well have been praised. Done and done.

But what happens when you don’t get Read More

Annual review season is in full swing, and most of the experienced managers and long term employees on your staff have been through the process before and know exactly what’s expected of them. Self-evaluations are being typed up and edited as we speak. And managers are looking out over their flocks of direct reports, assessing the progress of each individual, choosing coaching strategies, and coming up with ways to reward top performers.

But what about those mysterious entities, those blank slates with no clear record of accomplishment or struggle and no documented performance issues of any kind?

New employees who have been on board for fewer than six months can be challenging to evaluate, but managers dismiss these challenges at their peril. The first review can have a defining impact on an employee’s relationship with a company, and even if your managers have nothing to say, they’d better come up with something fast, and they’d better recognize that the stakes may be higher this year than they’ll ever be in the future.

Tact and foresight will play key roles during a new employee evaluation. Remember that the company may see the new hire as probationary, but the employee likely views the company in the same light. If she’s criticized more harshly than she expects, or confronted with drummed up negatives as well as positives because the protocol requires a balance, this may sow seeds of demotivation that can be hard to weed out later. By the same token, praising her wildly for showing up every morning may give her a false sense of her manager’s expectations.

Most of the time, employee reviews are based on a set of relatively objective truths, and the truth can free a manager from some of the human emperformuncertainty involved in effective coaching, discipline and motivation. But new employees come with very few objective truths. So you’ll need to make the most of every performance metric you’re able to gather.  Your review software can help. Choose a system, like CRG emPerform, that can help you collect and analyze data points across a wide variety of objective criteria. Start the analytic and record keeping process the day the employee joins the firm, and a few weeks or months down the road, you’ll be ready for a review that’s data-rich, productive, and meaningful.

By: Natalie Truperformance ratingdel

A standardized, quantified, and  automated employee review process is an essential way to track employee progress and maximize productivity in the workplace. Most managers and human resource departments understand the core benefits of employee reviews. Regular evaluations help ensure recognition for high performing workers, and they help keep mid-level performers on track toward the achievement of reasonable goals. Evaluations also help managers deal with low performers by providing a clear record of all efforts made to avoid termination.

These objectives are all vital aspects of performance tracking and workplace management. But the review process, no matter how valuable, comes with a few caveats. Once your review procedure becomes cost ineffective, its drawbacks begin to outweigh its benefits. The following tips can help to ensure that your evaluation process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible:

1. Keep the audit principle in mind. Instead of examining every minute detail of every employee’s performance, monitor a small number of details that suggest competence or incompetence across broad areas. For example, if too many customer complaints suggest an underlying problem, use “number of customer complaints” as one of the points in a five point Read More

Writing Performance Reviews Getting Past the Blank PageIf you’ve ever had to complete a self or employee appraisal, you may know what it’s like to spend several minutes or maybe even hours staring at a blank page or computer screen. The wonderful thing about technology and automation is that it allows us to do our jobs more efficiently and effectively. An automated talent management solution can help save time and energy on tedious tasks that would normally take forever to complete using a manual process, and instead allow us to channel our attention to other important areas.

But even with an automated tool, writing performance reviews can be tough. As a busy professional with a lot on your plate, you may very well find yourself struggling to get those ideas and thoughts flowing.

The truth is, even natural born authors get writers block. In fact, when asked about the scariest thing he had ever encountered, novelist Ernest Hemingway once said, “A blank sheet of paper.” And on several levels, he was right. When it comes to writing, the hardest part is often getting past the blank page which may be why employees and managers find appraisals to be a nuisance, and huff and puff when it comes down to actually doing them.

If you don’t have the luxury of an automated tool to turn to this performance review season, or if you do, and even that’s not enough to get you going, here are some helpful and practical ways to overcome writer’s block and get those appraisals completed on time:


1. Plan with a deadline in mind

Always be aware of your due date, and plan accordingly to ensure that you’re successful in meeting it. Also keep in mind that by not realizing your due date, you could be contributing to a bottle-neck in the process and preventing others from doing their jobs.


2. Block off your calendar

Set aside the necessary time you think you’ll need to complete your appraisal(s), and spread it out over more than one day. Don’t try to overload yourself by trying to get everything done at once or you may feel overwhelmed. Breaking the task down over time helps alleviate some of the pressure.


3. Take breaks

If you’ve been staring at a blank page for more than 15 minutes, take a breather and come back to it. Whether it’s getting up to walk around, or moving on to another task for the time being, taking a step back from the task at hand is more often than not the best thing to do.