Performance Reviews

Learn about performance reviews and peer feedback.

How to prepare for performance reviews

Now that we’ve addressed a selection of common misconceptions about performance reviews, let’s get to business. In this section, you’re going to learn exactly how to prepare everything you need to make your performance reviews a success.

The first question to address is how often performance reviews should be happening. I recommend every six months, once at the end of the year (say, around December) and once in the middle of the year (say, around June). There are a few reasons for this:

  • Waiting an entire year between performance reviews is way too long. Conversely, a review every quarter feels too often. Six months is long enough for you and your staff to have done a substantial amount of work to reflect on and for everyone to have progressed toward previous goals.

  • Two checkpoints a year increase the chances you have to course-correct anyone that needs assistance with their performance or direction before it’s too late.

  • The end-of-year review will most likely have the pay element looming, and we’ll look at some techniques for dealing with that. The mid-year review allows a touchpoint purely around performance without having to worry about the added complexity of pay.

Even if you find that your company only does performance reviews at the end of the year, there is nothing stopping you from doing them with your team during the middle of the year as well. After all, you’re only trying to do a good job of running your team!

So, to the next question: how much preparation do reviews need? The answer is quite a lot. However, the more you do them, the more efficient you’ll get. Additionally, you’re about to learn a simple, step-by-step process using a tracker to make it easier to organize yourself.

I would advise starting to prepare around three weeks before the reviews. This is because:

  • Often, writing reviews can take a fair bit of time, especially if you or your staff are not natural writers or need to take a long hard think about what they want to cover.

  • You’ll be asking for peer feedback for each of your staff, which you’ll need to request, collect, and present. Regardless of how smart and talented your colleagues are, the peer review process always takes longer than you expect. Allow time for it to happen so that each of your staff has a good selection of peer reviews to digest.

  • No doubt there will be production issues, bugs, things that catch fire, and vacations to contend with. Starting early builds in contingency for all of this.

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