A quality, helpful year-end review should go far beyond filling out requisite forms and quickly meeting with each employee if you want to make it effective. Take these tips so you can use this year’s reviews to inform and improve overall performance for the year to come.


This may sound obvious, but many employers don’t take the time to put a comprehensive end-of-year review together; instead, it’s done last-minute and doesn’t give employers or employees a clear performance assessment and plan for improvement. Without overdoing it, give employees thoughtfully prepared self-evaluations and enough time before the in-person review to do them. When you meet, have questions ready and establish consistent standards among all managers so employees all get the same performance appraisals. And give yourself and employees enough time to have a productive meeting.

Base them on the entire year.

In other words, you need to have made smaller, regular evaluations of employees throughout the year so this year-end review actually has some weight and merit. If you put together multiple small, informal evaluations throughout the year (or perhaps quarterly formal evaluations), you’ll have something to base the final yearly evaluation on. By doing so, you can discover patterns or trends, whether positive or negative, that affect worker performance and adjust accordingly. Perhaps the employee who constantly has trouble organizing assignments needs help or check-ins to stay on track and improve (this also serves as a gentle warning that the employee needs to make changes in order to stay on). Or perhaps the worker who consistently does the most in projects will be promoted to project manager.

Consider the process.

The “sandwich” technique really does work well: Start with a positive or two, pointing out the employee’s strengths or where she’s made strides in her performance. Then move to the negatives: the weaknesses or areas requiring improvement. Use specifics as often as possible; this helps to avoid overgeneralization and confusion. Then end on a positive note, including setting goals together for the upcoming year. Allowing for feedback will help create a conversation rather than putting the employee on the defensive. It also helps the employee take ownership in her own improvement.

Follow up.

Of all parts of the end-of-year evaluation, employers most often overlook this – and it’s the most important part of the review. After setting goals for the year together, follow up in a month or so to see if the employee has followed the plan and is on track to achieve his goals. Then check in every so often to make sure he remains on track – it could even flow into the brief reviews you’ll do throughout the year. Everyone gets busy and sidetracked; following up isn’t nagging; it’s helping to keep employees on target for improvement throughout the year.

Just follow these few tips and you’ll make your year-end evaluations work best for all involved. For more management tips or help finding great new employees, contact PrideStaff Akron.

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