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How to Approach Employee Reviews the Right Way

Employee review season is upon us. And while they can be challenging, the right approach – and the right incentive program – can make them a lot easier.

Employee reviews can inspire fear, excitement, happiness or uncertainty. How an employee views their annual review all depends on how it’s presented by an employer. Whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned boss, these tips can help you stay on track and ensure your employee gets the best value from their review. Plus, when coupled with a strategic incentives program, review season can be a great time to boost employee engagement, morale and productivity.


Things to do:


  • Reward quality over quantity

There’s no denying that productivity in the workplace is important, but make sure to also celebrate the work’s quality. For example, if you want your sales team to generate qualified leads, look for ways to incentivize the results, not just the behavior. Thirty sales calls per hour may sound productive, but that won’t matter if none of those calls produced results. Try offering tiered rewards based on a percentage of lead-generating calls, instead.

  • Be direct and clear

Nothing good ever came from wishy-washy direction or beating around the bush in an attempt to spare feelings. Deliver feedback in a concise and clear format that can’t be misinterpreted. Your employee will be happy that you gave them actionable insights that they can run with. Also, consider offering benchmarks throughout the year, and reward employees when they’re making progress toward the goals you agreed upon months ago.

  • Look at personal and team efforts

When you’re evaluating an employee’s progress, it’s important to factor in solo accomplishments and how they contribute to a group. It wouldn’t be fair to base someone’s work on personal achievements when they’ve been working as part of a team for the past six months.

  • Account for changing priorities

As an employee takes on new responsibilities or joins different projects, make sure their benchmarks reflect their latest situation. Their goals may have changed or the metrics of success may be different. When you have flexible priorities and benchmarks, having incentives that are equally as flexible allows you to tailor every reward to each employee, based on need or timing.

  • Show them the bigger picture

Sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back and show your employee how their work fits in with the company’s goals. It can help them see their efforts in a new light, feel more valuable and maybe even take a new approach to their work.


Things to avoid:


  • Don’t make reviews annual

It’s true — annual reviews are out and continuous evaluations are in. For better results and greater improvement, it just makes sense to have more frequent check-ins with your team. Plus, we’re living in the age of millennials, where constant feedback is expected. And if you’re going to have regular evaluations, you should also consider regular rewards.

  • Avoid setting unrealistic goals

Setting the bar too high can disappoint employers and discourage their employees. A lot of different factors go into setting achievable goals, but here are a couple things to keep in mind: set a realistic timeframe and only assign goals to someone who can take on the work.

  • Forget about one-sided feedback

Managers aren’t perfect, and allowing your employee to to give feedback — not just receive it — will make them feel heard and give you helpful pointers. Sometimes looking at feedback with this reversed perspective can also reveal ways to improve the employee’s performance.

  • Don’t let the blind lead the blind

Be sure to equip yourself (or your managers) with the right tools to successfully lead your employees. Finding the right metrics, methods and means to help an employee reach their potential is an artform.

  • Drop the know-it-all act

Reviews are often the time employees bring up questions or topics they’ve been saving throughout the year. If you don’t have the answer, don’t pretend like you do. Chances are, your employee will see through you and become disillusioned with your leadership. It’s better to be honest and tell them you’ll find the answer, then get back to them. It’s a great way to build rapport and trust with your team.



With these guidelines in mind during your next review, you’re bound to be create a better experience for your employee and better outcomes for everyone. But just to ensure a strong performance all year long, implement a regular employee incentive program. It can help you better recognize employees’ achievements, and keep them on track with the goals you set during reviews. Take a closer look at reward options for your team here.

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