Performance Reviews

5 Best Practices to Increase Your Performance Review Participation Rates

September 12, 2018
March 8, 2024
Lattice Team

It’s almost time that time of year: annual performance reviews. We interviewed several People Ops leaders well-versed in human resources that have run performance review cycles with 98%+ completion rates (including self-evaluations, upward reviews, peer reviews, and manager reviews) on Lattice and we’ve put together a list of their best tips on how to get managers and employees to complete the performance review process.

1. Set a review schedule and communicate deadlines.

People will take the review process seriously if you present a plan with clear expectations, and continuously communicate deadlines with the team. Stephanie Mardell, Vice President of People at Button, created a 6-week performance review schedule with specific time periods dedicated to self-evaluations, peer reviews, upward reviews, manager reviews, and review conversations.

2. Train employees on the process.

Prepare employees for upcoming annual reviews or the review cycle by explaining why the company is doing it, walking them through the review process, and showing them how to use the tools. Elliot Epstein, Head of People Operations at Knotel, says, “You need to train people in it, tell them how it’s going to be used and what it means - not in a way that’s scary, but in a way that gives them full visibility into the process.”

3. Provide examples on how to write a performance review.

Performance reviews can be intimidating for people that have never written a review before. That’s why Lauren Yee, People Coordinator at Rainforest QA, tries to make the process easier by providing employees with an FAQ with commonly asked questions and providing tips on how to write performance reviews:

Completing Your Reviews:

  • Get to the point. Keep it simple. You don’t need to write complete sentences -- instead, use bullet points to answer questions in a clear and concise way.
  • Be specific. Highlight specific and/or measurable projects, metrics, or outcomes. Your contributions are valuable and this review should focus on this.
  • No surprises. A review isn’t a time to drop a big bombshell on someone about something you’ve been thinking about. You wouldn’t want that in return!

Tips for Writer’s Block:

  • You only need 3-5 bullet points or a short blurb for each question.
  • Check out your previous conversation archives and go through old notes from 1:1 meetings or check-ins.
  • Look at Jira, Salesforce, or other places where your contributions are stored.
  • Journal what you are grateful for in terms of professional growth/ career development in 2017 and add this to your review.

Read all of Lauren’s performance review advice here: Rainforest QA's Employee Performance Review Best Practices.

4. Use a variety of reminders to nudge people over the finish line.

Setting a schedule, training employees ahead of time, and sending reminders will get you 50-75% of the way through. The next step is the delicate practice of finding different ways to follow up and remind busy people to finish their reviews without annoying them too much.

Tracy Clark, Head of People at Insight Data Science, shares her favorite strategy: “I got the best response when I talked to managers and asked them to bring up finishing performance reviews with their reports in their next 1:1. I’ve found that it’s the most effective way to encourage people to complete their reviews.”

5. Teams love goals and progress updates.

Nothing draws attention like ambitious goal setting. Cindy Gordon, VP of People at Policygenius, made it a team-wide OKR to get a 100% completion rate for their last performance review process.

Having set goals helped rally the team and got everyone interested in following the review cycle progress. “We’re a metrics-driven company, so we’d share daily updates on our participation rate via Slack to help build fire in the belly and build some friendly competition for the team to get it done.” Making constant updates can get people motivated and more invested in the outcome.