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How to Give Yearly Performance Reviews at Work

A boss should be a mentor who helps others become great. Provide a solid overall yearly assessment of employees' performance at work by giving them a concrete reflection of their progress.


  • TIP: Take at least an hour or more to write each appraisal, and another hour to meet with the employee privately.
  • Step 1: Offer specifics about what can be done to improve, in the spirit of helping them go from good to great. Be clear you're on their side.
  • FACT: A 2010 report based on a study covering 3,000 respondents in 79 countries indicated the happiest employees are 50 percent more productive. They are also 180 percent more energized than fellow workers.
  • Step 2: Practice strict professionalism in your comments, in either written or oral form. It's easy to misconstrue intentions in a stressful circumstance. Take the time to choose your words, or the review could lead to unnecessary repercussions.
  • Step 3: Give the benefit of the doubt on self-assessments, which are inevitably skewed and subjective. Consider both qualitative and quantitative impressions and results to realistically assess what the employee does well and what support they need.
  • Step 4: Give ongoing feedback throughout the year so that the yearly overview isn't a big surprise. Be thorough and issue monthly performance measures, compliments, criticisms, and dated memos to be on the same page with the employee at review time.
  • TIP: Make your review a genuine overview of the year. Resist them temptation to judge your employee merely based on the last few months or on recent events.
  • Step 5: Maintain a standard of objectivity with all employees rather than weighting someone's personality more than their performance level. Don't make the mistake of evaluating an employee in areas beyond their job description.
  • Step 6: Use the employee's last review at work as a benchmark to measure against for the yearly performance review. Track progress primarily with regard to goals made at that time.

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