Preparing for and Conducting the Annual Performance Review

Preparing for and Conducting the Annual Performance Review

Good preparation is needed from both the manager and the employee.

Consider: What documents or information should each bring to the conversation? What's new since the last conversation?

  • Review the current job/position description—does it accurately reflect the current key responsibilities of the position? If not, make a plan to update as needed. Learn more about job/position descriptions.
  • Review any documents from the last performance review.
  • Bring notes or documents accumulated during the year—feedback from customers or coworkers, documents showing the employee's achievements, etc.

What information does each person need to communicate to the other person? What information does each person want to learn?

  • What are the employee's successes since the last conversation?
  • What obstacles has the employee encountered since the last conversation?
  • Is training necessary for the employee to do the work more effectively?

What are the performance goals and development goals for the coming year? How do these connect to any previous goals set?

  • How can the manager assist the employee in achieving these goals? What is the right setting, amount of time, etc., for this conversation?
  • Make sure both manager and employee have had a chance to prepare and that you have allocated sufficient time (at least one hour).
  • Meet in a private space where you won't be interrupted.

Conducting the Review

The most important aspect of a performance review conversation is that it is a conversation. The purpose of any documents, forms, or other materials is to help guide the conversation.

During the review conversation, the manager and employee should:

  • Review any agreed-upon "next steps" or commitments from the most recent performance planning and review conversation.
  • Review successes since the last conversation, making sure to identify specific results achieved.
  • Review any obstacles encountered since the last conversation. Why did they arise? What are some possible ways to deal with them?
  • Be prepared to provide and receive good feedback.
  • Set SMART goals. 

The accomplished reviewer:

  • Focuses on observable behavior
  • Listens well
  • Coaches
  • Maintains an atmosphere of open honest dialogue
  • Documents the review

Choosing a Form

Performance review forms are tools to help you have a productive conversation with the employee and also to document the conversation. The conversation is the point of the performance review, so select a form that helps you have the most effective conversation. More on choosing a form.