Preparing for the Performance Review

Learn how performance review work starts on day one and how to effectively prepare for it.

The work of a performance review may feel like it starts when the formal review period begins, but in truth it’s started long, long before then. In fact, it started the day you welcomed the new employee on to the team (or you were welcomed onto the team as its leader).

Recall, from the very beginning of this course, the conversation on documentation—if you have been diligent in keeping documentation on each of your reports as you’ve gone through the year, then your preparation has already begun. Ideally, you have the notes from when you set expectations and goals, each of your 1:1s, standups, and team meetings. Combined with the feedback you’ve gathered from your team, your peers, your metric dashboards, and the individuals themselves, you will likely be swimming—perhaps even drowning—in information. This is good! It helps avoid recency bias, that tendency to think of only the recent past when writing up an assessment of an individual’s performance. (Recency bias is the idea behind the well-known political statement “Voters have short memories.”)

Once you have your notes and data in place, your preparation will principally take two forms:

  • Writing the performance review. The performance review is almost always a written exercise, so you’ll need to sit down with a computer and your notes and put all your thoughts into an essay (or multiple essays, depending on your company’s review template).
  • Delivering the performance review. You’ll want (need, really) to sit down and think about what you want to say, what examples you want to cite, and what takeaways you want your employee to carry with them.

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