Simplify Employee Reviews: 6 Steps for Effectively Tracking Performance

Manager giving employee reviewsDespite the growing push towards using on-going coaching conversations to promote a more engaged workforce, annual or semi-annual employee reviews continue to be a key tool for many organizations who aren’t ready to make the transition.  Preparation for this formal process often feels tedious, and both managers and employees often find the resulting discussion to be uncomfortable.  But it doesn’t have to be!

Most often, preparing for employee reviews feels tedious because most of us don’t have a record of performance data to review and assess.  Instead, when we sit to complete an evaluation, we struggle to remember relevant details that support a rather anecdotal assessment of the employee’s performance.  So, of course we’re filled with dread when the conversation time approaches.

Imagine how differently you’d approach employee reviews if you had objective, consistent and well-documented data on which you could base your assessment – aka performance logs.

6 Steps for Keeping Effective Performance Logs

For every employee you supervise, you should maintain a file (digital or paper) that contains their job title, job description and resume – as well as a spreadsheet or log of some sort.  Here are six tips to consider when creating your process for systematically tracking your subordinates’ performance.

    1. Maintain a Schedule – Abandon the idea that you’ll remember everything each employee does that’s noteworthy. Instead, schedule a specific period of time each week (or month depending on your needs) that’s dedicated to making performance-related notes.
    2. Recognize Positives & Negatives – One of the reasons it’s important to maintain a schedule is that you’re more likely to create a balanced documentation of both positive and negative behaviours. Without a schedule, it’s likely that you’ll only think of your performance log when negative incidents occur – leaving you with a biased and incomplete account.
    3. Make a Timestamp – It’s more valuable to note the date, day of the week and time of the behaviour (as opposed to the date on which you’re making the entry). As you assess the performance log, you may find trends that could lead to productive discussions about outside influences, etc.
    4. Track Observations & Facts – Avoid any assumptions or judgments and only document the things you observe. This means not narrating the entries with personal commentary – which could be damaging for you and your company if the performance log was ever needed as evidence in an employee lawsuit.
    5. Always Avoid Prejudicial Language – Documents used in employee reviews, including performance logs, are not private. In fact, they should be shared with human resources and executive leaders periodically.  Therefore, it’s important that you never use biased or prejudicial language, such as references to an employee’s gender, orientation, race, age, disability, marital status, religion or other protected classification.
    6. Use Specific Examples – General observations aren’t very productive because they can be seen as subjective. Specific examples, on the other hand, are more likely to be objective and actionable – empowering you to offer more effective feedback and to implement a coaching methodology.

Understanding Employee Reviews vs Coaching Conversations

Your employees are your most valuable asset, so it’s essential to embrace strategies that improve internal communication, increase employee engagement and optimize productivity.  However, the traditional model of conducting annual or semi-annual employee reviews has proven to be less effective than we previously thought.

In the 2017 The State of the American Workplace Report, Gallup states that:

Only 33% of employees are engaged, a mere 21% strongly agrees that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, and just 18% strongly agrees that employees who perform better grow faster at their organization.

The report goes on to discuss the shortcomings of traditional performance management systems (namely the lack of ongoing feedback and coaching behaviours), and suggests that “more frequent, ongoing conversations may be the missing link in performance management.”

However, most managers don’t understand how to implement a coaching mindset that delivers more effective performance conversations with employees.  That’s where a FocalPoint Business Coach can help.

Learn How to Employ a Coaching Methodology in Your Organization

At FocalPoint Canada, we guide our clients in overcoming challenges and leveraging opportunities with proven processes and methodologies that have been used by thousands of successful businesses over the past two decades.  Our FocalPoint business coaches use their expertise to teach our time-tested methods through individual coaching, group sessions, or trainings and workshops.

It all starts with a conversation.  Call us at 866-761-1616 or email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *