Productivity · Leadership

Are employee reviews worth it?

Megan May UI Designer at Chicyy

November 16th, 2015

Deciding whether or not I want to implement employee reviews for my startup. Have others felt that this is beneficial and does growth stem from reviews of this sort? How often should these reviews take place & should all coworkers take part in the review of each other since we are such a small/transparent team?

Gabriel Magana-Gonzalez Highly experienced CTO/Engineer/Software Architect

November 16th, 2015

I absolutely vote for reviews, but you have to do them right. Use it as an opportunity to get feedback. Make sure the review is a two-way street. Use them to follow up on longer-term employee goals that you can miss on less formal more frequent one-on-ones. Use them to follow up on longer-term employee requests (two-way street). Use the employee review as well to make sure your employee is paid well (potentially give a raise if it's earned).

Don’t make mistakes that other companies make that give reviews a bad reputation. If you have a form for the manager and the employee to fill up, make sure it's short (1 page max). Make sure you ask the truly important questions only (how I feel I'm doing, in what did I do a good job, what do I need to improve, what do I need from the company? What did I want to accomplish in my career in the next X months/years? Add you own, non-BS questions.). Make it so the form does not need to have a book written in response to the questions. Have the employee submit the form to their manager before the review so the manager is ready and can address the questions.

If you're doing it right, the form takes less than an hour to fill (the answers must be thoughtful, after all) and the review should take half hour or less. 

Without formal review every X months (I'd suggest no less often then quarterly), you will miss very important stuff that's always less important than the fire you have in front of you (such as giving a raise, following up on long-term goals and promises, etc). If you do not have a periodic review process, then have something periodic that forces you to follow up on both the good and the bad about the employee.

Patrina Mack Experts in global commercialization

November 16th, 2015

My experience with employee reviews is that they are a two way street. It's a chance for you to provide feedback but also get feedback. I think it's critical to 360 degree feedback. Fostering a culture of openness and establishing a mindset that we can all do better attracts high EQ employees. I know of a company where the staff are leaving because a co-founder is driving them away - startups can ill afford to lose valuable talent with deep product/company experience because someone on the team may manage up well but not know how to inspire a team to do their best. Also, as you're growing your team do you want them to vent on glassdoor and affect your future hires or would you rather know sooner when you can act on it?

NOTE:   I'm not proposing that the review feedback be universally shared verbatim but that employees feel that they can honestly share how they really feel and feel heard is critical however that works for the size and maturity of your organization.

Paul Murskov

November 16th, 2015

Hi Megan,

Lots of mixed opinions on this but from my standpoint 100% yes. 1000% yes. Reviews are crucial, both external and internal. Platforms like provide a transparent and effective way to get reviews for your company. It drives leads and candidates to inquire about your company at the same time. You should never be afraid of reviews because this is really the way to gauge how well you are doing as a leader. I strongly believe that if you are going to ask for a review - it should be something that is public so it provides value for your organization in terms of a BD play. If you are so inclined to do so, you can first ask for internal reviews and then after you gauge how well you are performing in the eyes of your team - you can request them to write something publicly. If you don't like what you are seeing - you can always make appropriate changes.

Hope this helps!

Ian Homer Coach To Executives and Business Owners

November 16th, 2015

Hi Megan,

I like to think of reviews like servicing my car. The only way to know what's going on under the hood is to have someone look at it and share what's going on. If you don't service it regularly - eventually any machine will break down. So...

In any team (but particularly in a newly formed or small team) it's crucial you build trust first. Get to know each other. Get into each other's lives a little - there's no short cut for doing this but the more you can build trust with each other, the rest becomes easier (much easier). With trust you can have great debate about the issues not the people.

People want to do more of what they're good at, be part of something more than just a job and, oh yes, get rewarded adequately.

Jobs change and evolve over time as you grow, so reviews will become necessary to make sure your team members remain aligned with what they're good at _and_ enjoy doing. Other 'stuff' has a habit of creeping into jobs over time that can be distracting and limiting for progress. Reviews will help you here.

How formal should they be? Just formal enough to make sure you don't miss anything and they are taken seriously.

As with anything in business, if it's not scheduled it wont get done. So plan to have reviews e.g. each quarter.

Hope that helped Megan.

Michael Lipson Executive Coach & Strategic Consultant

November 20th, 2015

Great string.  Have compiled into a valuable best practices summary.  Thx all. 

High EQ (emotional intelligence) makes reviews highly valuable, and the lack of EQ can actually make them damaging or costly.  

So while the string is fantastic, IMO an understated yet critical aspect is the attitudinal & human dynamic aspects that make reviews highest value.  There's a few mentions about openness (including bi-directional feedback) and building trust (start early on, make it part of culture.)  Yes yes yes!  

We could go much further on this - but a good start is to encourage the reviewer to incorporate CORE in their perspective and execution, and in so doing model/encourage employee to do same: 
  • Cooperation - we're on the same side and in this together
  • Ownership  - we each own some portion of your past & future performance
  • Respect - treat as a human being, not just a productive asset
  • Empathy - stand in your shoes. How's your work and performance review experience been, and what does it invite?

Josan Wright Writer/Producer, Educator

November 22nd, 2015

Beautifully stated! josan

Olivier Montety Fintech / Online Financial services Paris, Berlin & elsewhere

November 16th, 2015

Review? Feedback? Don't know.Maybe just talk with your people and first listen, deeply, often, as often as possible. Tehn you will identify people who give you more value in these talks, you miht start calling them leaders/managers. But some very valudable and shy people have to be nurtured too. REcopgnising difference is central to your success
No you should never make a 360° review a public exercise, either people will say nothing, or it would become a Moscow trial sort of exchange, or you will have  a full riot at hand or a mix :-)

Zhenya Rozinskiy Partner at Mirigos

November 16th, 2015

If you are planning on doing a once a year review and call it a day, I wouldn't do it. It's not useful and can actually work against your goals.

I would however give employees constant feedback (constant means just that - constant, not scheduled monthly or quarterly or anything). Once a year I still like to do a more formal review that serves both as a feedback on the past year and a roadmap for the next year. I find that if feedback was provided all along it's an easy conversation and preparation of a review takes very little time.

Another tool that I highly recommend is a 360 review. Do them every six months if you can, but at least once a year. Spend time to build in right questions.

Betty Hasker Business Development Specialist - Start growing your business today!

November 16th, 2015

Absolutely, positively yes. Job descriptions and reviews are a critical function of building your business if done properly. If done incorrectly they are a waste of everyone's time. It's the exectution that creates the value, not the function itself.

Betty Hasker Business Development Specialist - Start growing your business today!

November 16th, 2015

Agree Gabriel. Short and clear is the key, with plenty of opportunity for the conversation to be a 2 way street. Reviews are meant to encourage growth - both of the individual and the company.