Tammy Tsonis
Tammy TsonisDirector of Human Resources
My name is Tammy Tsonis and I’ve been with FSI since March 2022. I am a SPHR certified Human Resources Professional with over 20 years of HR experience working in various industries.

Performance Reviews. There are no other two words in the English language that can conjure feelings of apprehension in the minds of employees and managers alike. While the process is often tedious and unpredictable, it is extremely important for the career development of staff members, as well as essential for organizational survival. Careful planning and execution can make the process more efficient and impactful.

Performance Review Tips for Employee Success


Like many other major projects, preparation is key for performance review success. Managers should focus on the following items when preparing to evaluate an employee:

  • Objectives & Goals – A good first step is reviewing the employee’s job description prior to evaluating their performance. How is the employee performing essential job functions? What goals should be implemented to meet key project deadlines in both the short term and long-term future? This might also be the time to update job duties if you find that some no longer apply or if any need to be added. If this is the case, be sure to discuss this change with your employees.
  • Questions – Be prepared to answer questions on how the role fits into the department and/or overall organization’s structure and mission. Be sure to explain how any new responsibilities are part of the position’s overall goals. Remember that the majority of employees value having a purpose in the workplace, and it also helps keep them motivated.
  • Setting – Plan your performance review meeting in a comfortable setting. You can have your meeting in an informal meeting room or in your office around a table to encourage an open discussion. Be sure to find a timeslot that gives both of you enough time to bring up questions without feeling rushed.



Performance reviews should remain as objective as possible. It’s important for managers to remember these key concepts:

  • Provide feedback in a calm and helpful matter – Communicate any feedback, especially negative comments, in an objective and encouraging manner. Choose words that are kind, clear, and helpful. The SANDWICH method is a method often used to help deliver constructive criticism. This feedback technique consists of “sandwiching” a positive statement with an issue or complaint and ending with a final positive statement or piece of encouragement. Some experts claim that this method may sometimes diminish the value of the main message or confuse the recipient, but if it is used correctly and concisely, it may help managers remain objective.
  • Provide feedback frequently and consistently – Experts all agree that frequent, consistent feedback is best when it comes to employee performance. Gone are the days when annual reviews were the standard. The best method is to have frequent check-ins with your employees so potential problems or training gaps are identified early.
  • Separate performance issues from your overall perception of the employee – Some employees may have performance issues, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t good employees. They may need some additional training, or they may be going through some personal issues that are temporarily affecting their performance. Stay objective and be sure to keep communication open and work with the employee to help improve his or her performance.
  • Avoid recency bias – Recency bias is the tendency to base a review on an employee’s most recent performance while forgetting or ignoring earlier positive performance. Avoid letting recent mistakes overshadow your employee’s accomplishments by keeping consistent notes on your employee’s performance throughout the year so you can review them before your performance evaluation.
  • Maintain open communication and feedback – Be sure to maintain a two-way conversation style to allow the employee to provide his or her own feedback and the opportunity to ask questions about potential challenges or training needs.


Once the annual performance review is completed, communication should continue throughout the year. The best way to do this is by conducting informal quarterly checks. Follow up with your employees on any goals or objectives that have a specific timeline. Ask the following questions:

  • Is the employee on time to complete those goals or objectives?
  • Have they run into any challenges or issues that might move the timeline?
  • Are additional resources or training needed to complete the goals or objectives?

The annual performance review period doesn’t need to be a scary time of the year. Careful preparation, execution, and follow-up can transform the process into a valuable and productive discussion between you and your team members. Remember that an organization’s success is measured by the success of its employees.