Performance Reviews An introduction

Based on Armstrong's Handbook of Performance Management, by Michael Armstrong.

Performance Reviews can be a nightmare.

But with proper planning and guidance, they can lead to improved performance and a progressive work culture.

Purposes of Performance Reviews


To review how well individuals have performed their jobs.

Objective Setting.

To set new objectives and revise existing ones.

Development Planning.

To agree on performance and personal development plans.


To provide positive feedback and recognition.


To serve as a two-way channel for communication about roles, expectations, relationships, work problems and aspirations.


To assess performance in order to inform reward decisions, especially those concerning performance pay.

Talent Management.

To identify potential as part of a talent management program.

Poor Performance.

To identify underperformers so that corrective action can be taken.

The 12 Rules of Performance Reviews.

Be prepared.

Managers should prepare by referring to a list of agreed goals and their notes on performance throughout the year. Individuals should also prepare in order to identify achievements and problems and to be ready to assess their own performance at the meeting. They should also note any points they wish to raise about their work and prospects.

Work to a clear structure.

The meeting should be planned to cover all the points identified during preparation. Sufficient time should be allowed for a full discussion – hurried meetings will be ineffective. The meeting should be an hour at a minimum.

Create the right atmosphere.

A successful meeting depends on creating an informal environment in which a full, frank but friendly exchange of views can take place.

Provide good feedback.

Individuals need to know how they are getting on. Feedback needs to be based on factual evidence and careful thought should be given to what is said and how it is said so that it motivates rather than demotivates people.

Use time productively.

The reviewer should test understanding, obtain information, and seek proposals and support. Time should be allowed for the individual to express his or her views fully and to respond to any comments made by the manager or team lead. The meeting should take the form of a dialogue between two interested and involved parties both of whom are seeking a positive conclusion.

Use praise.

If possible, managers should begin with praise for some specific achievement, but this should be sincere and deserved. Praise helps people to relax – everyone needs encouragement and appreciation.

Let individuals do most of the talking.

This enables them to get things off their chest and helps them to feel that they are getting a fair hearing. Use open-ended questions (i.e. questions that invite the individual to think about what to reply to rather than indicating the expected answer). This is to encourage people to expand.

Invite self-assessment.

This is to see how things look from the individual’s point of view and to provide a basis for discussion – many people underestimate themselves.

Discuss performance, not personality.

Discussions on performance should be based on factual evidence, not opinion. Always refer to actual events or behavior and to results compared with agreed performance measures. Individuals should be given plenty of scope to explain why something did or did not happen.

Encourage analysis of performance.

Don’t just hand out praise or blame. Analyze jointly and objectively why things went well or badly and what can be done to maintain a high standard or to avoid problems in the future. Focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.

Don’t deliver unexpected criticisms – there should be no surprises.

The discussion should only be concerned with events or behaviors, which have been noted at the time they took place. Feedback on performance should be immediate. It should not wait until the end of the year.

Agree on measurable objectives and a plan of action.

The aim should be to end the review meeting on a positive note.

Role play of a Performance Review:

Performance Review tips for Managers and Team Leads:



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