How To Prepare the Perfect Performance Review

Performance Review

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The Performance Review Checklist for Smart Managers:

  • Plan a schedule for organizational preparation  
  • Create guidelines for content preparation

A Performance review is an opportunities for managers.

Many managers hate performance reviews. Sure, they take up a lot of time and can sometimes put you under stress, but the effort is worth it!

In a performance review, you have time to listen to your team members in detail and discuss topics that are not covered in everyday life. Some examples of this are their personal dreams, goals and ideas for the company. 

You can discover strengths in your team members that you did not see before and learn that your team members set ambitious goals for themselves. Appreciative retrospectives and joint outlooks also motivate not only your team members but also yourself.

The following checklist should help you as a manager go into the interview with a good feeling.

Two weeks before the performance review, schedule for organizational preparation:

  • Block 90 minutes in your calendar for the performance review—the last 30 minutes are a buffer so that you don’t have to leave a good discussion ad hoc. If possible, the appointment should not take place directly after a long meeting.
  • Determine a non-disruptive location for the performance review—You and your team member should be able to sit across from each other. If necessary, reserve a meeting room.
  • Block out at least 30 minutes in your calendar the following week to prepare the appraisal interview’s content.
  • Invite your team member to the meeting and announce what it will be about one week before the performance review.
  • Read the minutes of the last annual review with the team member and, if applicable, the goal agreement.
  • Use the questions from the section “Preparing the content” to prepare for the appraisal interview. These questions serve as a personal reflection of you.

On the day of the performance review:

  • Prepare the room and provide drinks.
  • Redirect the phone and turn off your cell phone.
  • Have the notes you took when preparing for the interview ready.

Guiding Questions for Content Preparation

Questions about strengths and weaknesses

  • What three strengths come to mind spontaneously when I think of the team member?
  • Which tasks does the team member succeed at almost by themselves?
  • Which characteristics are positively reported back by colleagues or customers?
  • When does the team member seem bad-tempered or very stressed?
  • Which tasks does the team member dislike?

Which mistakes and difficulties have occurred repeatedly?

Questions about their role in the team

  • What role does the team member play in the team?
  • What tasks do they perform that are not in their “job description”?
  • How do I evaluate my personal relationship with the team member (formal, friendly, familiar, cool, tense, etc.)?
  • What would colleagues say about the employee (e.g., a friend or another team member)?

Questions About Goals and Goal Achievement

  • Which agreed-upon goals were achieved?
  • Which goal was missed?
  • What part did I, as the manager, play in the fact that the goal was not achieved?
  • What might the employee have been lacking?
  • Which achievements do I want to emphasize?
  • What new performance and behavioral goals do I want the team member to agree with?

Remember, the perfect performance review always starts with a solid and thorough plan. It can be a great opportunity when you prepare for it properly and create detailed guidelines. A performance review is worth every effort you put into it.

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About the coach​

Kai Boyd has been a leader, trainer and facilitator since 1989. He supports leaders and their teams to work together effectively, trustfully and with ease. This involves each and everyone – in their respective roles and as people. Tailor-made formats and genuine attention enable potential to unfold and synergies to emerge.

The graduate industrial engineer, managing director and former management consultant knows the requirements of his clients from many perspectives. He works systemically, strength- and solution-oriented. Leading international teams as well as work and academic programs in the USA and the UK enable him to always contribute the international perspective.

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