Overview of the Performance Review Cycle
The performance review document is part of an overall performance management process, often conducted on a 12-month cycle. While each organization approaches things differently, components of a typical process include:
Setting goals for the upcoming year
Conducting a mid-year check-in
Writing formal performance review documents for each employee, often with a rating
Conducting a year-in-review meeting with each employee to discuss the document
Making performance-based salary increase decisions
Communicating salary increase information to employees
The Purpose of the Performance Review
The performance review document is just one part of the process, but since it provides the basis for all of the other steps, it’s pretty important! At a lot of organizations, the process is treated like just another administrative task, about as much fun as submitting expense reports. The smart manager knows that this process, however cumbersome and illogical it might be, provides an opportunity to take a strategic approach to employee development.
The performance review, if done well, can serve multiple functions:
- Official organizational record of the employee’s performance and contributions for the year
- Supporting documentation for salary/promotion decisions
- Basis for formal conversation with employee regarding his or her performance
- Guidance for employee on what to focus on
What to Consider When Writing Annual Reviews
In addition to following your organization’s procedures for writing the reviews for your employees, you may also want to consider some key questions:
- Who will be actually reading the worksheets? Will your manager read them? Your manager’s manager? The division head?
- What should someone else, either a reviewer in your reporting chain or perhaps a prospective hiring manager, know about the employees’ contributions?
- Whose input might be important in developing a complete picture of each employee’s performance?
The “audience” for a written performance review includes more than the employee. When you are writing it, you should think about how someone who doesn’t know the employee or the team’s work, such as your great-grand-boss or a new supervisor who takes over from you, would process the information. Would it help that person understand the employee’s performance?
Checklist for Annual Reviews
Here is a checklist of the key steps involved in writing performance reviews: