Performance reviews are excellent tools managers and business owners can use to evaluate employees. From the performance review, managers and owners can decide such things as whether an employee deserves advancement or whether an employee should be let go. Critical performance reviews focus on locating and exploring specific areas where the employee did very well or where an employee needs improvement.

A Critical Review

Write a quick critical incident report whenever an employee does exceptionally well on a task or fails to perform a task. The key to writing critical performance reviews is documenting when critical incidents occur. Whenever an incident occurs that warrants a critical incident report, jot down your impressions.

Conduct a "pre-evaluation" of the employee under review prior to your meeting. Critical performance reviews hone in on specific areas of an employee's work. Prior to meeting with the employee, review any reports listed in step one and develop a list of several "critical" areas of the employee's work--list events or tasks where the employee did well and list events or tasks where the employee underperformed.

Meet with the employee and discuss the critical incidents you developed; further discuss critical incidents that come up during the course of the meeting. Take notes during the meeting on what is discussed.

Write the report based on the conversation that occured during your meeting. When writing the report, use simple, neutral language. Be completely honest and tell the employee what he did well and what he needs to improve.

Use a "job information questionnaire" to assist your report. Job information questionnaires detail the employee's job duties; basically, it is a checklist of things your employee should be doing. Let the job information questionnaire guide your report.

Use an effective rating system when writing your report. For example, statements such as "outstanding" mean that the employee far exceeded expectations, while "successful" simply means she performed according to expectations. Develop your own rating system to use in your report to help explain to your employee what she did well and what she needs to improve.

Include a section allowing employees to respond to your comments. The performance review process is a collaborative effort; allow your employee to voice concerns if he finds it necessary by providing space in your report to do so.


Keep in mind that the goal of a critical performance review is to encourage your employees to continue doing well or to continue to improve; make the meeting and the report productive and positive.