3 best practices for better performance reviews

a woman gives a performance review at the dentist's office


In today’s work climate, learning and development is one of the biggest tools in your arsenal for retention. In LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, “progress toward career goals” is the number one motivation for employees to learn. One way you can provide that growth is through performance reviews.

By having a barometer for success to abide by and offering opportunities to work on development plans, employees are more likely to stay instead of taking their talents elsewhere. Here are three best practices to keep in mind when conducting performance reviews:

Keep consistent check-ins on the calendar

An employee should not have to wait until the end of the year for feedback or to discuss goals. That’s why you will want to have regular check-ins, like monthly or bi-monthly. If employees are doing well, your encouragement will boost their morale and make them want to keep working hard. If you have feedback for ways to improve, they have time to course correct. In addition, these check-ins can also allow for regular conversation about goals and aspirations.

It is also important to keep these check-ins on a constant cadence. While it may be tempting to cancel or reschedule them when things get busy, you risk sending a message that the employee’s growth is not a priority.

Focus on behaviors and facts, not people

When it comes to negative feedback, it is best to avoid “you” statements. Calling out teammates directly will prompt a defensive response, which will overshadow the message you are trying to convey. Because not only will you have insulted their character with general statements, but you have also not provided specific examples that highlight the things you want them to improve.

Instead of this:  

“You are disorganized and don’t pay attention to detail.”

Say this:  

“There is opportunity to improve your organizational skills, particularly with patient scheduling. Over the last two months, we have had four patients that were double-booked. The expectation is that employees will take the extra time to ensure accuracy before entering appointments into the system.”

By not attacking them personally and offering specific examples, you are opening the door to discussion and offering the employee a clearer path to improvement.

Document expectations up front

You can’t expect employees to adhere to expectations if they are not documented anywhere in the first place. By having a code of conduct for your practice, your teammates will have a north star to follow and can reference it when discussing career growth and compensation. In turn, the document gives you something to point to if issues arise.

You may want to include guidelines surrounding the following areas:  

  • Expectations for workplace conduct
  • Policies around attendance, use of personal mobile devices and dress code
  • Clear definitions of prohibited conduct
  • Best practices for interacting with patients and third parties

The bottom line: Performance reviews are a cornerstone of employee growth, which can lead to higher retention. Make sure you are checking in frequently, offer objective feedback and document expectations up front.