Best Practices for Managers and Employees to Prepare for Performance Evaluations

The performance evaluation is a crucial part of the ongoing dialogue between managers and employees.

It summarizes ongoing performance and development conversations and provides a record of past performance and expectations for work moving forward.

Best Practices

  • Shared responsibility in a collaborative and open feedback process
  • Recognition for contributions and coaching for improvements
  • Alignment of individual tasks to the team and departmental goals
  • Clarification of expectations and resources
  • Commitment to continuous improvement and follow-through

When both the manager and employee prepare for the performance evaluation, it can lead to an effective and meaningful process. Begin the process by:

  • Reviewing documents and conversations

    • Last year’s performance evaluation
    • Mid-year check-ins
    • Job description
    • Employee Self-Assessment (If applicable)
    • Notes accumulated during the year
  • Identifying the following:
    • Accomplishments
    • Progress on goals
    • Areas of exceptional performance
    • Areas of growth
    • Additional responsibilities were taken on
    • Contributions to special projects
    • Challenges encountered
    • Areas where development is needed or desired
    • Key messages to convey
  • Use clear, concise language to describe:

    • Performance compared to agreed-upon expectations
    • Key accomplishments and contributions
    • Examples of strengths and development opportunities
    • Key expectations for the coming year
  • Focus on observable and measurable performance
  • Cite specific examples
  • Provide actionable feedback
  • Avoid vague statements and exaggerations
  • Celebrate successes and position shortfalls as an opportunity for learning and adjustment
  • Use bullet points, if desired

The most important aspect of a performance evaluation is the conversation. Preparing for the meeting will help guide a productive conversation. Consider what to communicate and what you want to learn:

  • Review accomplishments, strengths, obstacles, and areas for development
  • Consider achievement towards goals and what might be needed moving forward
  • Determine the most important messages to convey
  • Determine the right setting and amount of time needed for the conversation
  • Be prepared to give and receive feedback

During the performance evaluation conversation, the manager and employee should:

  • Review any agreed-upon “next steps” or commitments from the most recent performance conversation
  • Review successes since the last conversation, making sure to identify specific results achieved
  • Review any obstacles encountered since the last conversation. Why did they arise? What are some possible ways to deal with them?
  • Establish SMART goals for moving forward (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound)

Following the performance evaluation conversation, the manager and employee should:

  • Record notes from the meeting
  • Reflect on how the meeting went and what you could do differently for future meetings
  • Plan for a follow-up discussion on any open issues and to check in on goals