One of the most important advantages of any business is its people. When the workforce is in tune the business can thrive.

Employee performance reviews are a necessity when it comes to achieving peak performance. No, reviews aren’t always seen as “fun”, but they are beneficial to the company, the manager and the employee. Here are ten tips for making employee performance reviews as impactful as possible.

1. Concentrate on What You Can Achieve Together

Don’t use performance reviews just to tell employees everything they’re doing wrong. Although certain aspects of an employee’s work might need to change, the key is to approach them as challenges you can overcome together, not as weaknesses inherent to their work style.

2. Strive For Consistency and Fairness

A performance review is intended to be a fair and balanced assessment of an employee’s performance. When discussing goals, areas for improvement and expectations, the message should remain consistent to minimize confusion. In addition, be sure to apply performance criteria to all employees, not just a few.

3. Encourage Employees to Evaluate Themselves

Self-evaluation allows employees to monitor their progress, self-correct, and dive deep into how they can improve. It further allows employees to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and development needs. By doing this, an employee can feel heard. Make it a two-way conversation and employees will feel a higher sense of value.

4. Be Honest About Poor Performance

Be honest, but don’t be overly harsh. When offering a less-than-positive truth, it could be seen as a way to help, a way to solve a problem or a way to hurt someone. Always show compassion and provide a solution, even if the solution isn’t an immediate one. For example, offer advice, a plan and extra training to show that you’re available and willing to give the employee the right tools to succeed.

5. Don’t Talk About Negative Personality Traits

Focus on performance, not personality. If an employee does have a poor attitude, share specific examples of behaviors that caused you, and maybe other employees, to feel that way. By sharing details and offering help, the employee is less likely to feel attacked.

6. Give Words of Motivation

Words of motivation can truly increase performance. It’s better to uplift, motivate and inspire underperforming employees than it is to continually fire and rehire. Take time to help motivate employees by building their confidence and spirits.

7. Prepare Talking Points Before the Review

A proper employee evaluation requires preparation on the manager’s part. Employees will notice if you try to wing it and come unprepared, and not much will be accomplished to help career progression. When you’re preparing for the meeting, here are some details to compile:

  • Speak with other employees to gather opinions regarding performance.
  • Find a list of goals from last year’s performance review and have them on hand to discuss.
  • Note performance issues related to specific projects or tasks.
  • Gather positive feedback to mention in the review. This will help keep the conversation from focusing only on criticism.

8. Don’t Answer Questions You Can’t Answer

Managers don’t have to know everything, and that’s okay. If you can’t answer a particular question, just be honest and follow up later. In addition, if you shouldn’t discuss a certain topic with an employee, you don’t have to. The best employee evaluations are open and honest conversations, but make sure not to accidentally talk about sensitive or confidential information about other employees, customers, or the company itself. Be honest and forthcoming about the employee’s performance, but remember if anything slips it can and will be repeated later.

9. Set Future Goals

A major component of a performance review is to work with your employees to create future goals. They need to understand what is expected of them short-term and long-term. If your team isn’t clear on the goals they should be meeting, then they simply can’t meet them. To help, identify additional training or other resources they can utilize to build their skills and improve performance.

10. Don’t Compare One Employee to Another

Employee comparisons are unfair and could create unhealthy competition, resentment and conflict. Instead, use real goals and targets to make your comparisons. Show your employees the goals that you want them to reach and then grade their performance on how close or far they are from reaching them. Always draw comparisons from real data; never make it about competition among employees.

When done right, performance reviews can be an effective and powerful way of creating loyalty amongst team members. Feedback can go a long way in giving workers the confidence and drive they need in order to perform their jobs better.