We all sympathize with employees facing performance reviews. No one likes to be evaluated, especially by their boss, and the entire ordeal can be quite nerve-racking. What we forget, however, is that the same feeling of dread employees experience at this time is also (at least in part) felt by their bosses.


You should be a bit more animated when conducting performance reviews.

Addressing an employee’s shortcomings is awkward, and doing so while maintaining good will is a huge challenge. Nonetheless, performance reviews are necessary. They help determine compensation, hold employees accountable, and, when done correctly, increase worker productivity.

Much of the anxiety surrounding performance reviews comes from both parties’ uncertainty of how the meeting with go. With a plan in place, you can enter the review largely free from worry and focused on results.

The following plan is inspired by the tried and true approach of HuntingBigSales CEO Tom Searcy. Review each area in the order suggested:

1. Duties: Begin by reviewing the employee’s specific responsibilities. Open with a statement of this nature: “As we discussed when you came on board, the duties of your position are…” Doing so ensures your employee does not feel unjustly evaluated, for you’re only reviewing duties he agreed to uphold.

By detailing the position up front, you also set a direction for the meeting.

2. Successes: Commenting on your employee’s successes up front sets a positive tone for the meeting. Anxious employees will immediately relax and, knowing you recognize their accomplishments, be more receptive to any criticisms you have.smile

Be honest in your praise. Don’t pour it on just to bolster spirits; your employee will see right through you. One sincere comment will mean much more than 15 disingenuous ones.

3. Personality: In the daily grind, it’s easy for employees to start feeling like mere machines. Show yours you see them as people. In addition to noting an employee’s professional achievements, comment on aspects of their personality you admire.

Energy, drive, and loyalty always stick out in the workplace.

4. Goals: It’s important for employees to see their performance as tied to the overall success of the company. Provide your employee with your vision for the business in upcoming months (think 2-3 specific goals).

5. Upcoming Challenges: Share with your employee the challenges you anticipate to encounter in pursuit of these goals. Ask if he can foresee any others. If your employee is engaged at this level of planning, he’ll be all the more invested in the work to roll out these plans.

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6. Expected Contributions: End the review with a forward focus. Your employee should walk away with a clear sense of what is expected of him in the upcoming time period.

Rather than rattle off your expectations as he takes notes, invite him into the discussion. “Now that we know where we want to be by next month,” say “how do you feel you can help us get there?” (Note use of “we”).

By allowing your employee to generate his own list of contributions, you increase the likelihood that he’ll follow through with them.

If you’re struggling to keep your finances in check during busy times such as performance reviews, contact our start-up accounting and CFO services experts for assistance.

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