Insider Intelligence: Optimizing Performance Reviews

April 7, 2020
Four tips to ensure reviews are embraced rather than dreaded
This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag!

Just hearing “performance review” is enough to make any employee or manager shudder. Over the years though, I have come to love performance review season – both as an employee and as a leader.

Sure, it can be daunting when you have multiple employees who need to be evaluated, but developing a process at the beginning of the review year can help reduce the stress and headache when evaluation time comes.

Here are four tips to ensure performance reviews are embraced rather than dreaded. When done effectively, they can be a great experience for everyone involved and help your organization and your team members find success:

1. Don’t let reviews happen just once a year.

At the start of my career, an annual performance review made me overwhelmed by the task of evaluating my entire year’s performance in one sitting. Eventually as I progressed in my career, I had a leader who encouraged me to keep track of my progress throughout the year. I was even able to use my organization’s performance review software and go in periodically and make notes about wins or accomplishments.

When I became a manager, I took it one step further. Once a month in one-on-ones with employees, we check in to review the employee’s goals for the year, talk about progress to date and what is needed to ensure all goals are met by the end of the year.

Let’s be real too, sometimes the goals we set at the outset of the year need to be changed because projects do not happen, other roadblocks occur, etc. By checking in regularly, it means there are no surprises when the review period comes to an end. I make notes from these discussions, as well as other observations I make throughout the year, and save them. These monthly check-ins mean when you sit down with your employee for their final review, there are no surprises for anyone.

2. Tie employee and department goals to corporate goals.

A mistake I have seen some organizations make is not repeatedly sharing the corporate goals with all employees. At some jobs I have had in the past, my department worked in a vacuum to come up with our own goals and success metrics.

Luckily, when I moved into management, I was at an organization that did it right. We held regular all-team meetings where the executive team would walk the whole staff through what the goals were and how we were tracking to reach them. Then, as department leaders, we would create goals that supported overall organizational metrics and everyone’s personal goals would align as well. This helps each employee understand the role they are playing to help the whole organization succeed.

3. Don’t skip performance reviews completely.

If your organization does not currently have a performance review system, do not forgo them with employees. The best performers want to know how they are doing, and good performers who are willing to receive feedback can only benefit from reviews. Those who do not want to be reviewed or do not take feedback well are not long-term players on your team.

While there may not be a formal system in place, you can still find a great template online or create your own to set goals with employees and regularly check in to see what they are doing to accomplish them.

4. Personal development is important.

I always have my employees set one personal goal for the year that can be related or unrelated to their work. Some examples have been Lean Six Sigma certification, take an Excel class, join Toastmasters or even take a weekly workout class or prioritize walking on one’s lunch break. I know you all care about your employees as individuals, not just an employee. Likewise, the more whole an employee’s life is across the board, the better their performance will be.

Candice Aragon is the Director of Marketing for PSA Security Network. Request more info about PSA at