Room for Improvement — How to Prepare for a Performance Review

By Spike Team, July 10, 2019
how to prepare for a bad performance review

Performance reviews. Sure, everyone knows the benefits by now. They can motivate team members, clarify job roles, provide opportunities for self-development, and offer you the chance to identify good work and address bad habits. But when it comes to preparing for a performance review, it’s pretty easy to keep pushing it to the bottom of your to-do list. It seems there’s always some other priority—you know, like cleaning the dust from your keyboard or color coding your stationary.


However, getting yourself organized is crucial if you want to extract maximum benefit from assessments and give constructive feedback to employees. Whether you’re part of a huge HR department or the the only member of the team in a brand new startup, it is equally important to prepare and deliver effective performance reviews. Remember: it’s an opportunity to foster a dialogue with the people you count on every day. It’s also the chance to build better working relationships and get an overview of how your team collaborates most effectively. After all, extracting the best from your talented employees should never be left to chance. 


Here then, we take a look at how to prepare for a performance review and offer a few top tips on how to make the process both productive and painless.



Read Job Descriptions and Previous Evaluations

 When asking how a manager should prepare for a performance review, the first place to start is with a job description. Your staff have (hopefully) grown into their positions and now deal with all kinds of tasks and responsibilities that they didn’t necessarily sign up for. Using a job description as a starting point is a great way to see how far they have come. Next, if there is one, you should review any documentation from the last performance assessment. Here, you have an overview of last year’s evaluation and any goals that were set. This should allow you to get a comprehensive overview of where the employee started and where they are heading.



Use a Performance Review Form

how to prepare for a performance reviewPhoto by Isaac Smith on Unsplash


There’s a simple rule when considering how to prepare for an annual performance review: document everything in a performance review form! Not only will it help you organize your thoughts and allow you to systematically address specific KPIs, but it will also provide a written record of how an employee progresses over the years. However, it is worth mentioning that that form should never be used to vent grievances or performance issues that haven’t previously been addressed.


Performance problems should be dealt with as they arise, the performance review form should reflect those issues, but not serve up any nasty surprises for your employee on the day of the review. It is also important to remember that, when considering how to prepare for a bad performance review, your employee is likely to be equally unhappy with the way any specific situation has played out. Address the issue on the form but leave space for constructive discussion that can get to the heart of the matter.



Find Examples of Good (and Bad) Work

how to prepare for a bad performance reviewPhoto by Charles on Unsplash


Concrete examples of both good and bad work are a crucial tool when considering how to prepare for a performance review. You want to provide objective and measurable success stories and places where there is room for improvement. Spike’s Super Search can help you do this quickly and efficiently, allowing you to gather documentation from your email using just a keyword, tag, or email address to find everything that has crossed your path over the year.


Real-world examples of where an employee has succeeded and struggled allow you to illustrate how they might improve in the future. If an employee is poor at communication, for example, you might pull together a list of conversations where they have failed to express themselves satisfactorily or deal with requests from colleagues in a timely fashion. To balance this out, however, you must also provide examples of where the employee has succeeded in their communication. This provides concrete evidence of what is, and what is not, acceptable—allowing the employee to improve communication skills by referring to their own earlier successes.



Ensure Employees Know How to Prepare for a Performance Review

 Finally, there’s no use in learning how to prepare for a performance review if you don’t pass on the knowledge to your employees. In order for an evaluation and review to be effective, both parties need to be fully prepared and ready to communicate. This means self-assessment forms should be completed, the employee should read over job descriptions and previous evaluations, and they should bring along their own concrete examples of great work so you can compare and contrast perspectives and work together to set new goals together that will challenge both the employee and your team as a whole.  



How to Prepare for a Performance Review with Freelancers and Remote Workers

One final thought, particularly for small businesses and startups who don’t necessarily have full time staff to review, don’t forget your freelancers and remote workers. They’re people too! Clearly, learning how to prepare for a performance review means following much of the same advice, however, you need to ensure that all of the information you have gathered can easily be shared and that you can seamlessly convey it over a call. 


Spikes cloud storage integration and voice/video calls features can help you with this, allowing you to easily share documents and other paperwork with the employee through email. Additionally, for those freelancers and remote workers using the Spike app, you can jump on a performance review call with them wherever they are in the world using your smartphone. It’s the perfect way to make sure your off-site workers feel valued too! 


Spike Team The Spike team posts about productivity, time management, and the future of email, messaging and collaboration.