Discuss and Assess Performance

Your organization may have a formal performance management process in place or this might be something that you want to consider establishing. These processes are designed to motivate the employee, improve performance and contribute to his or her satisfaction and fulfillment.

Whether or not there is a formal process in place, you are strongly encouraged to discuss job performance and goals and objectives with your employees on an informal, regular basis.  If you are frequently out of the office, consider setting up periodic appointments (monthly or quarterly) with your employees.


Performance management is an ongoing communication process, undertaken in partnership between an employee and his/her immediate manager, which involves an ongoing dialogue about:

  • Specific performance objectives to be achieved
  • How each job links to the goals of the organization
  • What “doing the job well” means in concrete terms
  • How employees will work together with their managers to enhance performance over time
  • How performance will be measured
  • What development will be undertaken to ensure continued success and job satisfaction for each employee.

Key steps in a typical Performance Management process include:

  • Planning Performance– Identifying key responsibilities and setting performance objectives or goals.
  • Managing Performance– Ongoing monitoring, with informal and formal feedback, and ongoing coaching and mentoring; you may want to include quarterly informal “check-in” meetings
  • Appraising Performance and Development Planning– Meet with employee to review performance results and assess achievement of goals and prepare a Learning Plan to address any needs identified in the appraisal.


While performance reviews should take place on an ongoing basis, performance appraisals must meet annual deadlines.  The appraisal rests on a mutual understanding (reached through performance reviews) between the manager and employee with regard to major duties and responsibilities, work standards, and goals or objectives to be met during the review period.


Research demonstrates that specific, challenging objectives, combined with immediate feedback, lead to higher performance.  A SMART Performance Objective focuses on Outcome/impact, rather than on activities.  It is:

  • Specific:  Provide concrete detail
  • Measurable:  Include performance indicators
  • Achievable:  Challenging, yet attainable
  • Relevant:  Linked to broader business goals (next level up)
  • Time-bound:  Milestones identified; completion dates


As a manager, you should ensure that your employees receive performance reviews and appraisals in a timely fashion, as required by your organization.  As a business owner, you may want to take steps to put a process in place.

Keep in mind that the purpose of conducting performance reviews is generally to:

  • Discuss training needs, aspiration and job tasks;
  • Identify and address areas of improvement;
  • Recognize and encourage strengths; and
  • Discuss positive, purposeful approaches for meeting goals and objectives.

Questions to consider:

  • What do you feel you have accomplished in your job, over the review period?
  • Are you generally satisfied with your job and its requirements?  Why or why not?
  • What work objectives would you like to achieve in the next year?
  • How do you see the work objectives you have identified in Question # 3 as contributing to Tundra’s overall business objectives or priorities as you understand them?
  • How do you see your career progression over the next year, the next 1-3 years, and over the longer term (5 years and beyond)?


Most employers and leaders find it stressful to have performance discussions.  To ensure that these discussions go as well as possible, consider these tips:

  • Schedule performance review meetings well in advance so employees have sufficient time to prepare.
  • Schedule adequate time for discussion, including ample time for the employee to bring up issues.
  • Ensure the meeting place is comfortable and private, that you will not be interrupted, and that the discussion cannot be overheard.
  • Do not respond to telephone calls during the interview; this is an important event – the employee deserves your undivided attention.
  • Plan the content and structure of the interview by balancing positive and negative comments; give the employee the opportunity to ‘own’ the problem; be prepared to support as necessary.
  • Consider possible reactions and plan how you will respond.
  • Create a positive communication atmosphere, emphasizing the shared ownership of performance management, and encourage the employee to contribute to the discussion.
  • Be open-minded and prepared to ‘re-think’ your position if new information arises.
  • Where necessary, be prepared to work with the employee to develop specific plans to improve performance.