Prepping for Annual Performance Reviews

Without proper planning and execution, annual performance reviews can be a huge waste of time. In fact, CEB—a business best practices company, researched the amount of effort invested in performance reviews. The study found the average manager reported spending about 210 hours doing appraisals each year.

Undoubtedly, annual performance reviews should be a valid indicator of an employee’s value within the company. Feedback should be accurate and well-informed. Employees should be encouraged to continue operating in strengths. Constructive criticism should be offered on how to improve weaker areas. Here are three pointers to help your company excel at job performance reviews.


Share the S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Oriented, Time-bound)

Once company executives define priorities, discuss best practices and determine goals for the upcoming year, it’s only fair to communicate specific expectations of the staff. Email a detailed script to all staff members. This written version of the company’s S.M.A.R.T. goals and expectations can be an accessible measuring reference throughout the year.

Break down the company’s anticipated annual goals to fit within a quarterly, monthly or  weekly scope as applicable. All employees should be familiar with the company objectives, as these individuals will be held accountable for successfully achieving them.


Warm Up to Friendly Confrontation

Anxiety typically stems from confrontational situations. Reduce it by scheduling regular, informal brief reviews throughout the calendar year. This allows performance reviews to become a conversation instead of a monologue. For example, an employee should have an opportunity to discuss existing or anticipated challenges and viable resolutions toward innovative or modified business practices. Managers should take detailed notes in order to better evaluate an employee’s progress between reviews.

Hold a company-wide meeting at least twice a year. In general, the purpose is to keep staff abreast of how the company measures in terms of annual goal achievement. This helps everyone understand the importance of their role in the overall success of the company.

The Annual Review Date

Eight weeks prior: Remind employees to gather supportive documentation. Encourage them to focus on showing how they successfully achieved the predetermined S.M.A.R.T. goals. Employees should include praise reports from clients, colleagues or leadership. Proposals for necessary protocols and best practices should also be discussed.

Six weeks prior: Managers should begin collaborating notes from previous reviews. Employees will appreciate your preparedness and feel valued at the same. Notice how productive the review process can be involved parties are properly prepared.

During the review: All parties should be prepared, open minded and receptive to the findings that have been tracked throughout the year. Managers should also be intentional about identifying an employee’s strengths. A Gallup poll found that employees who received feedback on their strengths had 14.9% lower turnover rates than employee who received no feedback at all.


Maximizing annual reviews can be beneficial to improving the level of employee engagement on the job. A viable first step is to effectively communicate all identified S.M.A.R.T. goals for the entire company as well as on department or team levels. Specify how achievement of desired results will be measured within deadlines. 

Next, take the initiative to dispel the common myth that annual performance reviews are a huge waste of time. Make the effort to prepare and hold employees accountable for presenting their best at all times. Finally, engage in meaningful conversations by providing quality feedback, that is both accurate and informative, and reassuring employees their contribution is valuable.


Tip #1- Dispel the myth that the annual review is a joke

Tip #2- Embrace confrontational situations

Tip#3- Determine the value of these review: Stat// Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability.