How to Change Your Performance Review Process

by Lauren Girardin on September 20, 2017

Performance reviews are often unloved. The feeling is justified when the process is outdated and disconnected from your employees’ day to day work. If this is the case, giving your organization’s performance review process a thorough overhaul can radically rejuvenate your employee engagement. Changing your organization’s entire performance review process isn’t simple, but the rewards are worthwhile. It can improve your organizational culture, give high-performing employees the recognition they deserve, and support struggling employees to grow and change.

How can your organization go about changing your performance review process for the better?

1. Start with a clean slate

Also known as the “burn it and start over” technique, starting with a clean slate means you can accomplish something greater than simply changing your performance review process. You are able to create an all-new process that prioritizes the future over the past. You get to cleanse your performance review process of the negative legacy of old mistakes, bad habits, and false assumptions.

To start with a clean slate, explain that you’re open to any ideas, tools, methods, and structures that may be able to motivate people to constantly improve their performance. Take the opportunity to build trust by engaging everyone in changing the performance review process for the greater good. Be ready to squelch the “that’s not how we do it here” attitude that keeps valuable new ideas from being voiced and implemented.

2. Define the purpose across teams

A lot of people will believe that they already know why your organization does performance reviews. If you haven’t communicated the purpose clearly, there may be discrepancies in how people perceive and use these reviews. Or, people may think that performance reviews are pointless. If performance reviews haven’t lead to purposeful action at your organization, these people may be right.

To give purpose to your performance review process, encourage people to ask what really matters. Don’t let managers just talk amongst themselves. Facilitate open, honest dialog that lets all employees be heard and helps people listen to each other. Create collaborative conversations that break down team silos and eliminates management isolation. Talk together about the ways that performance reviews can support both the professional and personal growth of individuals as well as the overall success of the organization.

3. Find the solution that fits the purpose

There’s no universal performance review process, and the best solutions are designed to meet a variety of needs. To change your performance review process, you’ll want to carefully evaluate the solution you use to manage the process.

If you choose a rigid solution, you will likely be forced to compromise in ways that can result in a less effective performance review process and outcomes. Instead, choose solution that can be adapted to fit your purpose. Look for a flexible set of methods and tools that can evolve as your performance review process changes and can scale as it becomes more sophisticated.

4. Match measurements to purpose

Your performance review process will be more effective when what you measure fits your purpose. Change your process so your measurements give your employees, managers, and the organization the information needed to make important decisions and to change future behaviors.

As you change your performance review process, measure only what you plan to act on to avoid a data dump of an overwhelming amount of information. Collect data that you’re confident will be useful in recognizing employee performance and motivating employees to grow and develop in the future. Measure performance regularly so you can nurture employees to continuously improve their performance.New Call-to-action

Lauren Girardin

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and speaker based in San Francisco. She helps organizations engage their communities and tell their stories. Her website is and you can connect with her on Twitter at @girardinl.