Performance Reviews: How to Make Them Measurable and Meaningful

By David Workman,

At one time or another, most of us have worked with someone who is chronically five to ten minutes late, spends hours of valuable work time on Facebook, and has no problem letting other workers pick up his or her slack. Some of these coworkers may even believe they should be up for a promotion, or at least nominated for Employee of the Month. A lack of self-awareness is generally to blame.

Studies show that the bottom 50 percent of workers actually believe that they are in the top 20 percent. This miscalculation goes far beyond one individual’s delusions of grandeur: it means that the performance review processes need to be improved.

The fact that performance review processes are being redesigned every three to five years shows how challenging it is to get this process right. However, by employing certain measures, leaders can use performance reviews to foster a more productive, efficient, and pleasant work environment.

Provide measurable outcomes:

Most people don’t have a clear idea about why they are paid to come to work. In other words, if you ask employees to write down what they are paid to do, they will write down processes, not measurable outcomes. It’s crucial that employees understand how the work they do contributes to a larger outcome or result, and it’s important that the work they do is measurable. Goals should be time bound, measurable and specific and the achievement of goals expressed as Exceeded the Goal, Met the Goal or Missed the Goal

Give regular feedback:

Reviews shouldn’t be the only time employees receive feedback about performance. Leaders should work with people on a daily basis, and reviews should be done as work is done – daily. This means leaders should thank employees regularly for doing a good job while asking how to help when employees are experiencing difficulties. If there happens to be a problem with an employee, managers should address it immediately. Ideally, a performance review should be a review of things that have been addressed throughout the year.

Be proactive:

There are three basic reasons employees don’t accomplish goals: they lack the desire or motivation to do the job, they lack the skills to do the job, or something in the organization is getting in the way of their ability to do the job. Therefore, instead of simply giving “constructive criticism,” leaders should use the performance reviews as a time to discern the problem and strategize ways to actively help employees reach their goals.

Management coaching helps leaders get better results, and performance reviews play an important role in enhancing employee performance. Our next workshop on performance reviews will be in La Jolla on March 7, 2014. For more information about our workshop or how management coaching can improve your performance review processes, contact me at or call (949) 887-4721.