8 Performance Review Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Performance evaluations can increase output and inspire your staff. They can also assist you in deciding on promotions, training requirements, pay raises, and disciplinary measures. The common errors that some seasoned managers make while providing performance appraisal comments are listed below, along with advice on how to avoid them.

1: The conversation is one-sided.

You and the employee should engage in dialogue during the performance evaluation. Ask the employee to assess their own performance before the meeting to assist foster discussion. Start the discussion by mentioning that the goal of the review is to enhance performance and promote professional development as another way to relax the employee. Concentrate on the feedback-exchange process, and work together to develop future action plans.

2: The employee is surprised by the feedback.

The employee shouldn’t learn about a problem for the first time at the performance review. Performance concerns ought to be addressed when they arise and reaffirmed at the review. If you have previously warned an employee about their performance, either verbally or in writing, please remind them of those discussions and, if necessary, offer any supporting documentation.

3: The employee thinks the goals are/were unrealistic.

The employee’s progress toward current goals should be discussed in the performance review together with goals for the upcoming review period. Include the employee in the goal-setting process as much as you can. The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Discuss the exact reasons why an employee feels that new goals are impossible or was unable to accomplish their previous ones. Be adaptable and modify goals as resource limitations or other extenuating conditions arise.

4: Failing to take steps to reduce distractions.

By arranging the meeting for a time that works for both parties, you can reduce interruptions during the performance assessment. Try to schedule the meeting after a big project or deadline while keeping in mind the employee’s workload. Additionally, when merit raises are combined with performance reviews, workers could only think about the pay raises. Some employers hold two distinct discussions—one for performance and the other for potential merit raises—to avoid this. Whatever you do, make sure the employee concentrates on the performance review so they may comprehend their evaluations, discover what they need to do for the upcoming review period, and ask any queries they may have.

5: The conversation becomes argumentative.

Instead of debating performance, the evaluation should be a productive discussion. Inform the employee that you will look into the new information after the meeting if they offer new information that is pertinent to the performance assessment (for example, if they claim to have earned more sales than the review indicates). Avoid promising to revise the performance rating, and if required, arrange a follow-up meeting.

6: Leading with the negative.

Even if an employee gets a great review overall, they could focus on the criticism. To lessen this, begin the discussion with complimentary remarks before moving on to topics where the employee needs to improve. Recognizing an employee’s accomplishments is important, but you should also be honest and direct when giving feedback on their shortcomings. Give specific examples if necessary. Additionally, offer tactics and ideas for how to enhance performance.

7:  Faulting employees for taking protected leave or for engaging in other protected activity.

Employees have the right to job-protected leave, and many federal, state, and local laws forbid retaliation against workers who use this privilege. When evaluating an employee’s attendance or performance, you may not consider the time spent on protected leave. Various regulations offer protection to workers who engage in other kinds of behavior, like legitimate off-duty activities. To be sure you are in compliance, check your local laws.

8: Failing to ask an employee to acknowledge that they received the review.

Ask the employee to sign the written review at the conclusion of each performance evaluation. Explain to the employee, if they refuse to sign, that the signature is merely a confirmation that the employee has received the information and does not necessarily agree with it. Give the worker a chance to submit a written justification for their disagreement with the performance review if they have a problem with it. Put a notation and a date on the performance record if the employee still won’t sign.


Consider the aforementioned advice and do the following to make sure your performance assessments stay on course:

  • Prioritize evaluating and enhancing performance.
  • Feedback should be given often to all workers.
  • Resolve performance issues quickly and in private.
  • Make sure the standards you use for performance evaluations are reliable, relevant to the position, and consistently applied.
  • Make sure the evaluations and feedback are correct and free from conscious or unconscious prejudice.
  • Managers and others should receive training on giving feedback and adhering to the law.
  • Hold managers liable for giving staff members regular performance comments.
  • Regularly check in with the employee to discuss their progress and provide help as required.

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