Tips to Make Performance Reviews Beneficial to Employers/Employees

Annual performance reviews can be helpful for both employers and employees if done right, or can be useless if done poorly. In Episode 40 of The Workplace podcast, CalChamber Executive Vice President and General Counsel Erika Frank and employment law expert Jennifer Shaw discuss employee performance reviews and provide tips on how to draft constructive evaluations.

With the help of a clip from the television series “The Office,” Frank and Shaw delve into what works for effective performance evaluations and what does not.

No Halfhearted Reviews

If a company decides to issue performance reviews, Shaw advises that employers take the time to craft a thoughtful review that does not rely on scales or generic words such as “outstanding” or “satisfactory.” A good employee performance review should be a snapshot of the worker’s performance for the entire year, she says.

“If you’re just going to…do it halfway and halfheartedly…[it’s] better to not do it at all,” she tells Frank.


When drafting a performance review, Shaw recommends that employers:

• Review work performance and not the person. Do not make the feedback personal. Think about what information you are attempting to convey to the employee.

• Try not to use generic scales or metrics. There is no one-size-fits-all evaluation, so take the time to tailor the review to the employee’s position. When crafting an evaluation, review the employee’s job description and evaluate the execution of those duties for the entire year.

• Get feedback from employees. If an employee’s productivity is not where it should be, talk to the employee to see where the company can help. Ask your employees what motivates them. Are deadlines too short? Is the employee not good at time management? “Until they’re gone, they’re here,” Shaw tells Frank. If, after receiving help, the employee continues to perform the job poorly, termination should be considered.

• If an employee needs to be disciplined, do so separately from the performance review. Ideally, take any disciplinary action before the performance review is drafted.

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