Performance reviews are one of the most important things a manager can do for the people in his department. Take them seriously, complete them on time and be honest, constructive, critical, complimentary and sincere. Just like you have probably read and re-read your annual reviews, so will your subordinates.

Performance reviews are one of the most important things a manager can do for the people in his department. Take them seriously, complete them on time and be honest, constructive, critical, complimentary and sincere. Just like you have probably read and re-read your annual reviews, so will your subordinates.


Every company seems to have its own version of a performance review form. That said, generally they fall into one of the following three categories.




Narrative-based

Quantitative-based

Narrative/quantitative combination

Narrative-based performance reviews usually include a list of the person’s prior year accomplishments, their strengths and weaknesses, a personal development/training plan for the coming year and a short summary of the person’s overall performance.


Quantitative-based performance reviews are generally either a list of statements that you “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with, or a list of attribute types such as “leadership ability,” “quality of work” and “timeliness” that you rate on a scale from 1 to 10.


Narrative/quantitative combination performance reviews are what you would expect, a review document containing both narrative and quantitative components.


These review styles all have the same intention, to provide the employee with an accurate and honest assessment of his/her personal performance during the prior year. It should also be forward thinking and contain an action plan to assist the employee in growing professionally, and sometimes even personally.


Lastly, delivery of the review document should not be considered to be the end of the review process. It should be viewed as the basis for a two-way conversation between the manager and his/her subordinate.




If a person is doing a good job, they deserve to be told.

If a person is doing a bad job, they deserve to be told.

In both cases, as their manager, it’s your job to tell them.

It’s also your job to tell the person where improvements are needed. Then, work with the person to formulate a plan to make those improvements. These plans generally include a combination of formal training classes, on-the-job experiences and things to personally work on, like attitude and level of effort.


I believe in the philosophy that:




No one is so good that you can’t find something that needs improvement.

No one is so bad that you can’t find something good to say.

When I write someone’s review, regardless of the format, I make sure to discuss both their good points and their bad points. If you say only good things in a review, you may be helping their ego, but you are not providing them any tangible value. As a result, you are really doing the person a disservice. If you only say bad things, even if they are meant in a constructive way, the person will just feel beat up and not take your criticism to heart.


Writing a good review for your staff is actually very good for your career for a number of reasons:




The people in your group will appreciate your effort and be a little more loyal to you.

You want to be known as a good manager, and good managers write good reviews.

It’s always a good idea to impress the people in human resources.

Well-written constructive criticism can improve employee performance, allowing your department to run more efficiently.

If someone is performing poorly, their review serves as documentation toward their removal.

It will be easier to hire quality internal candidates if your reputation is as a good manager.

The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:




Your team worked all year, they deserve an hour or two of your time to write an appropriate annual review.

Quality reviews will help you gain the loyalty and respect of your team.

Being known as a good manager, including writing quality reviews, will help you professionally.

For additional information on today’s topic, I suggest the book “The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional,” by Sharon Armstrong.


Until next time, manage well, manage smart and continue to grow.


Eric P. Bloom, based in Ashland, Mass., is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and author of the award-winning book “Manager Mechanics: Tips and Advice for First-Time Managers.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or visit www.ManagerMechanics.com.