As 2017 comes to a close, our thoughts are filled with what we have accomplished in the past year and the areas of our lives that we would like to improve in 2018. Annual performance reviews can easily be considered the New Year of the professional world as they help bring one year to a close and encourage setting goals, resolutions, and professional improvement in the future. Build your team’s confidence and strength by conducting annual reviews, while keeping the whole process in mind- it’s a far more involved process than one meeting per year.


Before the Performance Review

Preparing for an employee’s annual performance review begins a year before it actually takes place. Document completed projects, missed deadlines and opportunities for improvement throughout the year in order to form a comprehensive picture of the employee’s performance. By recording successes as well as struggles year-round, you will be able to track employee growth and have the ability to talk about specifics during their review. Communicate as you are documenting so that your employees stay informed, and use the review as an opportunity to reiterate their progress rather than a chance to broach subjects for the first time.

In addition to year-round documentation and communication, explain how you will be assessing employees at least a week before their review is scheduled. At this time, ask them to fill out a self-evaluation so that they can reflect and critically examine their own performance before meeting with you.

During the Performance Review

During the performance review, maintain a motivational tone to put the employee’s nerves at ease and let them know that you are in their corner; after all, employees are more likely to accept feedback from managers who are invested in their success. Lead the meeting, and guide them through the areas that you saw success, missed opportunities, and failures. Leave room for them to ask questions, make comments and discuss their experiences from the past year. Give them the opportunity to discuss their self-evaluation and compare it to your evaluation of their work.

The goal of the meeting should not only be to review the past year, but to also help the employee create goals and reach their full potential with your company moving forward.  Use their past performance and input to form meaningful and attainable goals for the next year. Collaborate to create a timeline that includes benchmarks to help them stay on track, as well as a method of assessing their progress throughout the year. Use their benchmarks as a timeline of when you should check in and support their work. Don’t forget to give them a copy of these goals and timeline so that you are both on the same page.

After the Performance Review

After the employee leaves your office, immediately jot down the key points that were brought up during the meeting. Note any concerns that your employee had and the areas of their performance that required the most discussion. Write their benchmarks on your calendar so that you don’t forget to touch base with them to provide support and feedback. Periodically check in with them and continue open communication and documentation until the next performance review.


Your employees should leave their annual review with a renewed sense of excitement about working for you, and the belief that you are invested in their success. Just like resolutions tend to fail months after New Year’s, so do employee goals if communication between managers and employees slows throughout the year. Make sure that your employees succeed by following the whole performance review process.