Recognition & Rewards

How to Conduct a Goal-Oriented Employee Review and Why It's Important

Reading time 5min

As soon as employees are invited to a performance review, warning bells start ringing. For supervisors and employees, the employee review is usually one of those unpleasant things that one would rather avoid.

However, the reason for a performance review is often not as negative as many people think. We will show you what it's all about, how to conduct employee reviews, and how to properly prepare for them.

Why Employee Performance Reviews Make Such a Difference

Why Employee Performance Reviews Make Such a Difference

Performance reviews should be viewed as opportunities because they contribute to the success of the company and the employee.

What is an employee performance review?

In a performance review, an exchange takes place between a supervisor and his or her employee. The discussion can be very different depending on the company's guidelines, department, and employee seniority.

The interview can typically place in a certain cycle (e.g., once every year, once every quarter, etc.) or be initiated for certain reasons. Normally, an employee review is conducted in private and within regular working hours.

Goals and function

Employee appraisals are an important management tool and part of professional development. While the topics vary, the focus is on the employee's performance and the employer's expectations.

In an open and transparent conversation, the participants are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions. Significant differences of opinion cannot be ruled out in discussions. The goal is to find a solution to the current situation (if there is an issue that needs solving).

The performance review is especially useful for understanding to what extent the employee adhered to the agreements and goals previously agreed upon and are ideally conducted on a regular basis.


Among employees and managers, the performance interview is a rather unpopular topic. However, supervisors in particular should make use of such a discussion, as it holds a lot of potentials and can influence the success of the company.

Advantages of staff reviews:

  • Increasing employee performance
  • Building trust
  • Improving the work environment
  • Providing clarity and transparency
  • Increasing employee retention

While it takes time to prepare and conduct employee reviews, this “investment” should not be neglected.

Is It Mandatory to Attend a Performance Review?

Is It Mandatory to Attend a Performance Review?

If you're based in Germany, you are required by the § 106 Industrial Code (GeWO) to participate in a performance review, provided it is conducted under certain conditions.

The employer can determine …

  • where the interview is to take place,
  • when it should take place, and
  • what content related to job performance will be discussed.

Your employer has the right to insist on the performance review, which relates to the implementation of the employment contract in everyday work. If you ignore your performance review, you can be warned or even terminated.

However, if the following contents are discussed, you do not have to participate in the performance review:

  • Modification of the employment contract
  • Termination of the employment contract
  • Compensation or number of hours worked

Normally, the employee review is conducted during regular working hours and at the place of work. However, there are exceptions in the following cases:

  • For night shifts, the interview may be held during the day.
  • For remote work, it may be conducted at the company's location. Travel time and expenses are paid by the employer.
  • Employee interviews cannot be held after hours, on days off, or on vacation.
  • If you are unable to work, you are not required to attend the performance review in most cases.

What to Expect in Your Review

What to Expect in Your Review

From extremely pleasant to unfortunate news, you can theoretically expect everything in a performance review.

It is about your performance, development opportunities, behavior, and general feedback. You can ask for the exact reason as soon as you receive an appointment for the interview from your supervisor (If it wasn't previously scheduled or anticipated).

You may be able to feel whether your employee review was scheduled for a positive or negative reason.

In any case, you can expect a discussion with your manager in which you will receive constructive criticism, goals will be set and/or your career in the company will be discussed.

Types of Performance Reviews

Types of Performance Reviews

Why does an employee review take place? For a variety of reasons – in general, however, there are two types of performance reviews.

1. Scheduled employee reviews

These reviews are held at regular intervals (for example, every six months or once a year). Human Resources establishes these staff meetings.

Topics include:

  • Performance review
  • Feedback
  • Personal development
  • Career opportunities
  • Reflection and criticism

You can prepare well for these types of performance reviews. Ideally, HR management will provide a guide for conducting them.

2. Occasion-related reviews

Certain occasions or events require a discussion. Both supervisors and employees can request an employee review discussion regarding current events. Again, it is important that participants prepare for the conversation.

In occasion-related reviews, topics include:

  • Conflicts
  • Changed working conditions
  • Sickness or incapacity
  • Drop in performance or accomplishments

Success Factors for Effective Performance Reviews

Success Factors for Effective Performance Reviews

What is your goal for the performance review? These success factors will help you prepare and conduct it properly.

Preparation for the performance review

Employees and employers should prepare for these discussions. A few tips also help during the course of the interview to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

1. Give notice of the interview well in advance

Announce the interview and have it scheduled on a shared calendar. Two weeks is a good time frame to give your employee a chance to adequately prepare for the employee review.

Have you been invited to an employee performance review? If you don't know the reason, ask!

2. Prepare a guide

In general, managers are responsible for planning for the employee review and therefore are responsible for any preparation involved.

Create a guideline and plan the course of the review. Which topics or areas of conflict should be discussed? What should be touched upon first? This will make it easier for you to conduct the performance review.

3. Arguments and examples

Address any concerns or issues you may have your employee. Good arguments and examples reinforce what you are saying. Get advice on topics to help you appear confident throughout the review.

Taking notes will prevent you from forgetting important points and can even take the edge off if you're at all anxious.

4. Prepare solutions

Are you aware of the issues to be discussed, and what might be criticized about your performance? Then you should bring solutions to the conversation. This leaves the impression that you are taking the situation seriously and are motivated to make a difference.

5. Appear confident

Presenting well thought out arguments and appearing confident are important factors in ensuring your point of view is heard and received.

In some rare cases, it may even be help to involve a works council or lawyer.

Conducting a performance review

The time has come and the review is about to take place. Get ready for the meeting with these tips.

1. Ensure a quiet and calm atmosphere

Make sure the atmosphere is undisturbed. Smartphones are put on silent and the office door is closed.

2. Let people finish and listen

In less formal situations and contexts, it is difficult to let the other person finish. Nevertheless, this is the moment to listen and take in what is being discussed.

3. Stay calm

If the occasion for the employee review is not a pleasant one, you should still remain calm. Temper tantrums or loud arguments are not very effective.

4. No signatures

Do not ask your employee to sign immediately. Give him or her time to think it over. As an employee, you should ask for it.

5. Describe your point of view

As a supervisor, describe your views first. Then ask the employee for his or her perspective and opinion. Also clarify the background to the issue at hand.

6. Record next steps

Document important conclusions that came from the discussion and record concrete next steps in writing. The employee should weigh in here. What is expected and by when? That way, all details can be cross checked at a later date to see whether an improvement in the situation was possible.

Conclusion: Ground-breaking Discussions

Conclusion: Ground-breaking Discussions

Regular performance reviews create clarity and transparency. They are an important basis for successful cooperation.

Some occasions, such as a persistent drop in performance, also require an employee review. The goal is to find solutions that will enable progress over the long run.

With proper preparation and execution, performance reviews are sure to go over well with your employees and provide a solid basis for professional growth.

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