How to Improve Employee Performance in 4 Steps

The performance appraisal. Love it? Hate it? Honestly, when it comes to employee performance there really isn’t any other way to improve the quality of their work. However, there are ways to botch the process if you don’t conduct these vital performance methods correctly. Whether your organization likes formal performance appraisals or prefers a casual, real-time approach, there are ways to make sure your team gets the most out of your feedback. Thorough communication and preparation lay the groundwork to improve employee performance. Here are four ways to get started:

Step #1: Communicate performance expectations

The job description may be a cryptic determinant to employee performance, but employees need to understand what is expected of them from management. Communication before performance problems occur is an indispensable method to creating an environment of development. If leadership purveys the necessary information ahead of time, employees will have a greater understanding as to how they will be evaluated in the future.


Step #2: Follow-up after the performance appraisal

The purpose of conducting a modern performance appraisal is to professionally develop employees. However, 40.1% of supervisors fail to follow-up after the performance reviews to see the progress of their team’s work [1].Mona Berberich explains,

“If you want to permanently succeed, you need to create and instill a routine. One workout is not going to make you look like Arnold. Schedule regular appointments and follow up with your employees’ performance.”

Step #3: Prepare yourself     

You expect your employees to come to their performance appraisal ready with questions and input and to receive feedback. The real question is: are you prepared to give it? This is where regular performance reviews or 360 degree reviews come into play. Over half (51%) of employees rank their current performance appraisal system as average [2]. If your organization joins the other 13% of companies that hold performance reviews at least every 6 months combined with good practices, you’ll likely get a better score.

Step #4: Challenge your employees

Your team wants a break from the mind-numbing day-to-day tasks. These might be important responsibilities, but if employees are expected to do these on a regular basis the tasks can lose their intrigue. Studies show if high potential employees are proposed with challenges (accompanied with support if they need it) that 70% of them will stay with their current company [3]. Liz Wiseman suggests:

“Try giving them higher-stakes work that addresses more complex problems and a more diverse set of stakeholders. For example, it might be time for one employee to take a divisional program to the entire company. Remember to make it hard in the right ways though…. You want to productively expand on the meaningful work they’re already doing.”

Whether you love or hate performance reviews, they are necessary. They don’t, however, have to be something to revile. You can make them productive and meaningful if you follow a few simple steps. Communicate the performance you expect of your employees before it’s time for an appraisal, and neither you or they will be surprised with the results of the review. As a supervisor, you have to be prepared before the performance appraisal and follow-up after the review with consistency or you risk losing the developmental efforts of the performance appraisal.
These few tips along with a challenging project on occasion formulate the foundation for improved performance throughout your team. Take a demo of Reviewsnap to see how we can make performance management easier for you.


[1] HR Daily Advisory – Supervisors’ Most Common PA Mistakes (2014 Performance Management Survey)

[2] CEB – High Potential Employees – 55 Percent Set to Leave

[3] – Infographic: 2014 employee performance appraisal practices

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