Performance reviews have widely been accepted as a standard practice at most companies. They’re a way for HR teams and managers to evaluate employees’ work and keep them on track for achieving business goals. But as useful as they are for boosting individual and team success, performance reviews aren’t a complete reflection of the employee experience.
Today’s best workplaces prioritize employees’ long-term success and career growth as part of the review process. Survey data from LinkedIn shows that corporate investment in career development programs is at an all-time high, which raises an important question: Are developmental reviews a must-have for forward-thinking organizations?
Successful management is about much more than ensuring that employees are working effectively and productively. If you want your employees to reach their full potential, you need to support their continual growth –– both professionally and personally. One of the best ways to do this is by having regular developmental reviews.
Creating space for development-focused conversations shows employees that you’re invested in their long-term success. In fact, studies show that when companies give employees room to grow, they tend to be rewarded by higher engagement metrics and more creative outputs. They also tend to retain top-performers, because employees are more likely to feel satisfied and committed at work when they are supported by a company culture that fosters career growth.
Effective Developmental Reviews
Making employee development a priority in your organization begins with having open and constructive conversations with employees about their personal goals. But holding effective developmental reviews doesn’t always come naturally to managers, which is where management training comes in. For starters, successful developmental reviews are:
- Ongoing: An employee’s goals, ambitions, and career trajectory will change over time, so managers need to be having development conversations on a regular basis.
- Employee-led: Employees should have ownership over defining their career development goals, while managers should provide structure and guidance on how to achieve those goals.
- Tailored: There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all developmental review. Every employee’s development journey is different, from where they’re starting to where they’re trying to go.
- Actionable: Effective developmental reviews should break larger goals into smaller, manageable steps that can be achieved and measured over time. Competency matrices can help connect growth goals to actionable development plans.
Sample Developmental Review Questions
- Which 1-3 of your strengths would you like to build on in the next six months?
- What would you like to try or do differently in the coming months?
- How can your manager best support you in the coming months?
- Which 1-3 of this person’s strengths would you encourage them to build on in the coming months?
- What aspect of this person’s work will most help them grow in the company/department /team?
- What could this person do in the next six months to advance their progress on personal development goals?
Sample Developmental Action Items
- Attend 3 training workshops per quarter to build soft skills (public speaking, time management, conflict management, etc.)
- Complete 1 certification program this quarter to build technical skills (digital marketing, software, project management, etc.)
- Attend 2 conferences this year to build professional network
- Present 1 project or new idea this quarter to the leadership team
- Shadow a mentor for 2 weeks to gain industry knowledge
Performance reviews are the cornerstone of a good people management system. As a benchmark for overall employee performance, performance reviews give organizations important insight into the type of work employees are doing and the value they bring to the company.
Apart from providing a structured method for identifying top performers and struggling ones, performance reviews allow companies to gain data-backed insights that can inform key decisions around talent management and compensation. For employees, these reviews give them a chance to share and receive feedback, as well as understand their impact on their team and the organization as a whole.
Sample Performance Review Questions
- What have been your top 3 accomplishments in the last six months (or since you joined the company, if you’ve been here less than six months)?
- To what extent did you meet the expectations communicated to you in the last six months? Give specific examples.
- Which of our values do you feel like you most embody in how you work? Give 1-3 examples.
- What are 1-3 examples of how this person helped you achieve your goals in the last six months?
- What are 1-3 things this person could have done differently in the last six months to be more effective in working with you?
- What do you think is the most valuable contribution this person has made to the company in the last six months?
- What 1-3 strengths did this person exhibit in the last six months? Give concrete examples.
- To what extent did this person meet the expectations communicated to them in the last six months? Give concrete examples.
- To what extent does this person embody the value of ABC in how they work? Give specific examples.
Sample Performance Review Action Items
- Secure 5 media mentions in the next three months
- Increase brand engagement by 50% over the next year
- Redesign and launch website by October 1
- Boost customer ratings from 3.0 to 4.5 by Q4
- Set up a formal onboarding process for new hires by October
How Do Developmental and Performance Reviews Differ?
Developmental and performance reviews serve unique purposes that benefit companies and employees in different ways. While developmental reviews are a relatively newer practice for most businesses, performance reviews have established their value in the workplace. To summarize the key differences between developmental and performance reviews, we put together the chart below: