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Talent Management Performance Management

How to Use Employee Performance Reviews to Develop A Players

October 12, 2021
7 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


This article on using employee performance reviews to develop A Players was originally published in September 2019. It was updated to include new information and statistics in October 2021.

An effective employee review should be comprised of more than just a quick conversation once or twice a year. It’s more than just asking employees how they feel about the work they’re doing and giving a few pointers. In fact, 82% of HR leaders said that performance management was not achieving its main goal at their company. That’s a good reason to take a second look at your company’s standard procedure for performance reviews.

Instead, evaluations should be used to provide employees with detailed constructive feedback that aligns with your company’s goals and values. Take advantage of this opportunity to promote business growth. After all, your employees are your greatest assets. Ensure they’re producing exceptional work that reflects what your business stands for by conducting effective performance reviews.

In order to create a powerful employee feedback strategy, begin by creating a review structure, then develop an ongoing coaching plan. Be sure to follow up and give employees regular feedback. After all, 96% of employees say they want feedback more often. Structured performance management and reviews help employees achieve their personal goals and stay connected to company goals, too.

@ClearCompany says you can develop employees into A Players by offering coaching, giving regular feedback, and setting goals:

Build a Performance Review Structure

What should you include in your performance review process to ensure employees’ progress is accurately measured? Begin by thinking about the employee’s core competencies, your business’s objectives, and how both tie into the employee’s role. Once you have determined the most important competencies and goals, consider how success or failure will be measured.

For example, one core competency for a role might be organizational skills. You’ll need to establish indicators of success, high potential, struggle, and failure for that skill. A common example of success would be an employee who always creates a meeting agenda to stay on track. An example of struggling organizational skills would be an employee who has trouble keeping track of project outcomes.

Though a core competency might be the same across roles, how success and failure are measured likely varies. That’s why it’s important to repeat this process for every role. Here are a few crucial things to do prior to the performance evaluation:

  • Gather and review their previous performance documents.  Reviewing past performance discussions provides benchmarks for employee development. Read their past self-assessment documents and goals to determine their progress (or lack of progress). This also gives insight into their overall contribution to the business’s goals. Take note of any areas of struggle or outstanding performance. It’s easy to review previous performance evaluations when you use performance management software. PM software keeps an accessible, thorough record of performance that makes it easy to spot trends and monitor progress.
  • Determine new goals and objectives. Once you have reviewed previous performance records, you can come up with goals and objectives for the next performance review. Have a few in mind, and then work with each employee to determine new short- and long-term goals during their review. Goals should be focused on how each employee can use their core competencies to contribute to business goals. Some objectives should also aim for improvements to core competencies and the development of new skills.
  • Create an agenda and rehearse. In your agenda, be sure to include any follow-up comments relating to their previous reviews and past goals. Allot some time during the performance appraisal for employees to reflect on their own progress, address concerns, and discuss action items. Rehearsing is an effective way to prepare yourself for the conversation and ensure you cover everything. Share the agenda with the reviewee as well so they know what to expect.

The performance management process goes far beyond a twice-yearly review (and definitely beyond an annual performance review). Continuous coaching and frequent, two-way feedback are important tools for improving performance and career development. Utilizing coaching and feedback shows your employees that you care about what they think and are invested in their growth.

Performance Review Tip #1: Prepare ahead of time. Review past evaluations, come up with new goals, and create an agenda so you cover the important topics.

Now, let’s explore how effective coaching methods can turn every team member into an A Player.

Employee Coaching to Develop A Players

Support and encouragement are essential In order for your employees to thrive in their roles. However, you must not lose sight of their areas of improvement and ensure they stick to their goals. To do this, you should implement employee coaching.

Coaching your employees contributes to their personal development and to the growth of your company. 56% of organizations said that coaching improved employee engagement. 70% of leaders surveyed agree that engagement is the most important factor contributing to business success. That’s a strong case for adding employee coaching to your performance management strategy.

Employee coaching is broken down into two key components: feedback and goal setting. This gives your employees a roadmap for improvement and success. They can better understand the performance initiatives they want to achieve and access developmental training to help them grow and succeed.

Coaching goes far beyond pointing to where you want to see the employee improve. Rather, it’s about working as a team to come up with a strategic, thought-out performance improvement plan.

Performance Review Tip #2: Incorporate coaching into performance management strategy to help your employees grow and stay engaged with their work.

Follow Up With Feedback

Coaching is not a 12-week training program — it should never end. In order to develop your A players, coaching should be consistent and always followed by transparent, respectful feedback. One way to ensure consistency is by setting up coaching check-ins monthly or quarterly. Stick to a regular check-in schedule to ensure coaching initiatives don’t fall through the cracks.

Before the check-in occurs, review the employee’s progress to see if they’re improving or stagnant. Look for any skills gaps, and come up with a plan to fill them. As with performance reviews, set an agenda so you can cover achievements, obstacles, and what’s next in their professional development journey.

Don’t forget to use positive reinforcement and recognition to encourage and support employees in their developmental journey. If you see their productivity has increased as a result of using a new method to prioritize tasks, offer specific praise. If they hit a big milestone, like earning a new professional certification, recognize their achievements and share the news with colleagues.

Offer praise and recognize accomplishments during #performancereviews to motivate employees. Check out more ways to use reviews to develop A Players in @ClearCompany’s latest blog:

This positive feedback encourages employees and instills confidence in their abilities. Plus, 70% of employees say recognition at work would improve their morale and motivation levels.

Transparency is key when it comes to all aspects of effective performance management:

  • Clear individual goals that align with company goals eliminate confusion around why employee goals are necessary and how they contribute to business success.
  • Specific, timely feedback helps employees see where they stand and better identify their own strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Employee coaching creates a clear path for improvement, professional development, and success for every worker. 
  • Positive reinforcement and recognition ensure that employees feel appreciated, instead of wondering whether they’re doing a good job.

Performance Review Tip #3: Transparent and consistent feedback is best when it comes to helping employees improve their performance.

Performance reviews, coaching, feedback, and follow-up are the essential ingredients of developing A player employees. This process makes for open and transparent communication between you and your employees. It creates a clear sense of direction for employee development and results in higher employee satisfaction and engagement.

When considering how you can use performance reviews to develop your A Players, start with a framework that considers both the employee’s role objectives and your company’s objectives. That framework helps you set employee goals, give them meaningful feedback and create a coaching plan. Ultimately, it also promotes the achievement of your company’s goals and objectives.

ClearCompany’s complete Performance Management System can support your efforts to develop engaged, motivated, high-performing employees. Performance management software helps put your performance review goals within reach. With help from powerful software tools, you make impactful changes to your performance management strategy.

Set goals, track performance progress, and build A Players with the right software solution. Schedule a demo to learn more about ClearCompany’s Performance Management platform.

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