How to Give a Performance Review

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You dread the thought of doing it, but you must sit down with your assistant and go over her performance review. Remember, giving a performance review need not be a high stress encounter. Here are some ideas to consider when giving a performance review.

Find a nice quiet office or conference room where you know you will not be disturbed with phone calls or visitors. Close the door, bring water and a small pocket pack of tissues if you expect it will be needed (hopefully, not by you). Invite her to sit down and relax.

Do not give her a copy of the final review before you go over it. She will read ahead and will be less likely to listen to what you are saying. Before you give the review, whether it is part of your policy or not, ask her to complete one on herself and give it to you. Then, at least you will have some idea of what she wants you to think she thinks of her own performance.

Go over the review in a calm, slow and deliberate manner so that she can take it all in. After you have read through and elaborated on the individual points with examples and feedback, give her a copy for her to take home. Have her sign your copy if needed for you company policy. Always start the feedback with positive points. Such as "You are so pleasant to have around and help to keep the office running in an organized fashion, but we wish you were here on the job more often. You have been out sick four days this quarter." Be direct, concise, calm and alert.

Some people are very tough on themselves when it comes to grading their own performance on the job. He may be relieved that you are not as tough on him as he is on himself. This is rare, however. Most employees are cognizant of having both good and bad points to their performance and will admit they can improve in some areas and are doing well in others.

Never tell someone something completely new, particularly if it is negative, during the performance review. All performance issues should be addressed as they occur. Though you will likely mention these issues as part of the review, try not to let one problem overshadow the person's review. In the opposite vein, don't rate someone too high because they performed well on one particular task, even if the task was very important.

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Be fair to all of those that you supervise and try not to favor someone just because he is very friendly toward you or a "brown noser." Other employees will resent this and they pay very close attention to how they are treated in comparison to how other people are treated. If they see any discrepancy, they will be offended, whether they tell you so or not.

Always end the review on a positive note. "I am sure you can address the issues raised and if I can help you in any way, please let me know." Smile, shake his hand and let him know you are sincere and available to him if he has problems or questions.

If you have a problem or potential volatile employee and are concerned about how he may react in the review session, talk to your human resources representative. She may wish to attend the meeting with you.


  • The session should not take more than one hour.


  • Don't be overly emotional or allow anger to direct your actions in any way.