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Performance Reviews Performance Management

6 Tips to Improve Collaboration in Performance Appraisals

December 12, 2023
7 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


This article on performance review collaboration was originally published in September 2020. It was updated in December 2023 with new information.

It’s no secret that employee performance reviews have developed a bad reputation over the years. That’s because too many companies use outdated strategies,like giving one annual review focused on past performance. These methods aren’t motivating your employees or improving their performance, and they certainly aren’t helping your managers build collaborative relationships with their direct reports.

Even if you’ve updated your performance management process, you can still look for ways to make it more collaborative. Improving collaboration is great for business: it makes new hires 65% more likely to stay long enough to become productive employees and leads to 17% higher job satisfaction. Good teamwork can even boost business revenue.

The more collaborative, the better when it comes to the performance appraisal process. Keep reading for six performance review collaboration tips.

Unlock the secrets to better collaboration in performance appraisals! 🚀 Get 6 tips from @ClearCompany that will transform how you approach employee evaluations:

Performance Review Collaboration Tip #1: Meet Every Week

If there’s just one collaboration tip you remember, make it this one. Researchers have uncovered significant evidence for the benefits of weekly manager-employee one-on-one meetings:

  • Employees are three times more likely to be engaged if they have weekly one-on-ones.
  • 43% of highly engaged employees meet with their manager once a week.
  • Continuous feedback systems lead to employees who are 65% more motivated and 66% more productive.

BONUS TIP: Encourage employees to set up regular one-on-ones with colleagues they often work with. These informal discussions help build communication skills, interpersonal skills, and the strong relationships, even friendships, that keep employees engaged and motivated.

Performance Review Collab Tip #2: Set Goals Together

One of the most common ways to measure performance is by setting goals. Typically, employees have annual or quarterly individual and team goals to meet that align with business goals (contributing directly to a company objective). While those goals are essential, try to avoid just assigning goals and moving on —that doesn’t leave much room to collaborate.

Instead, discuss the goals with your employees. Do they feel they can achieve their goals, meet deadlines, and deliver high-quality work? Discussion gives employees a chance to voice any concerns, ask questions, and work with managers to come up with creative solutions.

You should also talk to employees about their professional goals, like new skills they’d like to develop, help them define those goals, and then share ideas for reaching them. When you help your employees uncover and grow their strengths, you cultivate a work environment where they feel supported and motivated to do their best.

BONUS TIP: Annual performance reviews suffer from “recency bias,” meaning the focus tends to be on recent projects or accomplishments. That’s because it’s difficult to remember the events of an entire year.

To combat recency bias, evaluate goals and performance closely at least once per quarter. Even better, touch on goals monthly —if you’re following our first tip and meeting weekly, you’ll have plenty of chances to do so.

Performance Review Collab Tip #3: Make It a Conversation

Traditional employee performance appraisals were often just managers talking to employees about areas for improvement or saying the equivalent of “Keep up the good work.” Too much negative feedback, and even vague positive feedback, can leave employees feeling discouraged and confused.

Don’t just tell employees how you think they’re doing or read what you wrote in their review. Make room for collaboration by structuring performance reviews as conversations. Kick off the discussion by posing questions like these:

  • How do you feel about your performance?
  • Is there anything I can do better as a supervisor to support you?
  • What do you feel are your strongest skills? Your weakest?

Turning the tables and allowing employees to self-reflect helps managers gain important insight into how to support their team members best. Understanding their perspective can even help you offer them better constructive criticism.

It also gives the reviewer the chance to show humility, which increases feelings of psychological safety. Feeling psychologically safe makes people feel more comfortable sharing concerns and expressing opinions candidly, which in turn helps improve team performance.

BONUS TIP: When managers deliver feedback focused on improvement, it needs to be seen as actionable and supported by facts. Ensure you — and any reviewer at your organization —focus on the behavior, not the person, when giving feedback.

A non-effective way of addressing employee behavior would be stating, “You are inconsiderate of others’ time.” It’s vague and attacks the employee personally instead of pointing to a specific behavior hurting their performance.

A more effective way for managers to address an employee’s chronic tardiness might be by saying, “You’ve arrived late to our weekly meetings four times this month. How can we ensure you’re arriving on time going forward?” That way, you can start a conversation about how to improve rather than negatively characterizing and blaming the employee.

⚡ Elevate your team's success with collaborative performance appraisals. Get 6 actionable tips for better employee evaluations, including weekly one-on-one check-ins:

Performance Review Collab Tip #4: Start With a Self-Assessment

Struggling with how to improve performance appraisal collaboration? Employee self-assessments are an excellent way to introduce a more collaborative performance review process. As a plus, they also help managers get a more complete view of employee performance.

Exploring your employees’ experience before discussing your managerial and peer review notes tells you a lot about how employees see themselves —and it can give managers helpful insights. Do they recognize their strengths and weaknesses? Do they want to develop a skill you didn’t know they were interested in? Self-evaluations are key if you want to get to know your people better.

Did you know self-assessments can make it easier to have difficult performance conversations? Managers often need to discuss areas for improvement or weaknesses, which can be difficult to do constructively. But if you’re having regular one-on-ones, employees are likely already aware of where they need to improve, which means they’re likely to bring it up in their self-assessment. Self-assessments empower employees to take charge of their performance and give managers a natural segue into providing actionable feedback and coaching.

Read more on the ClearCompany blog on how to incorporate self-evaluations into your performance review process.

BONUS TIP: Use these performance review phrases to offer feedback based on employee self-evaluations:

  • “You mentioned one of your weaknesses is [weakness, e.g., too detail-oriented] and it’s causing [effect, e.g., missed deadlines]. Do you think [solution, e.g., discussing roadblocks and upcoming deadlines for projects at weekly one-on-ones] could help prevent those outcomes?”
  • “In your self-assessment, you noted one of your areas for improvement was [area for improvement, e.g., following up on action items after meetings]. Do you think [solution, e.g., following up on action items every Monday at 11 a.m.] could help you improve in this area?”
  • “Your self-evaluation says you’d like to move into a management role in the next one to two years. To do that, let’s discuss some skills you can develop and strengths you can refine to meet that goal.”

Performance Review Collab Tip #5: Recognize Employees’ Work

Believe it or not, recognizing and rewarding employees helps improve collaboration. 65% of people would work harder if they felt recognized by management, and 37% said recognition would motivate them to do better work more often.

It’s a no-brainer when you think about it —would you be more inclined to stay at your job and be a team player with a positive attitude when your hard work goes unnoticed or when it’s celebrated? Regular recognition and encouragement, both manager-employee and peer-to-peer, leads to better teamwork.

Performance Review Collab Tip #6: Use Performance Management Software

Performance appraisal processes can be extremely unwieldy, which is why they’re often infrequent or ineffective. But they’re also necessary for nurturing successful employees and effective teams working toward common goals. Performance management doesn’t have to be such a burden when you use a software solution.

You can create a more organized, cohesive, and collaborative performance management strategy with the help of robust software tools. Make sure software has these essential features before making a purchase:

  • A variety of performance review types, including self-assessments and peer reviews
  • One-on-one tools that facilitate conversation, like a shared digital workspace, agenda, and meeting reminders
  • Automatic review cycles to ensure evaluations occur regularly and are completed in a timely manner
  • Performance analytics tools to drive insights and data-informed decision-making

The Best Software for Performance Review Collaboration

Start giving performance reviews that get your employees involved and help them grow with ClearCompany. Our powerful software solution helps you easily manage the administrative parts of performance management and unlocks the “why” behind employee performance scores.

The ClearCompany Performance Management platform has what you need to kick off your most collaborative review cycle yet:

  • Expert-built performance review templates mean you can launch your next review cycle ASAP.
  • 360-degree reviews and employee self-assessments give you a new perspective on performance.
  • Shout Outs and Celebrations encourage everyone to share thanks and well wishes often and publicly.
  • Performance analytics reveal trends, highlight who’s excelling and who needs support, and help your HR team work collaboratively to refine your strategy.

Get in touch with a ClearCompany expert to demo our suite of employee-first features and find out how we can help you improve collaboration in your performance appraisal process.

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