Four Tips to Nail Your Performance Reviews

Francisco Homem de Mello

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Here are four simple tips you can leverage to nail your performance reviews:

  1. Plan in advance: Reviews are all about giving great evidence that supports your ratings. So spend some time planning your accomplishments, as well as situations where you showed the behaviours and values that are being discussed;
  2. Structure your comments according the 3 traits of great feedback: Context, where you explain the situation where the value/trait/behaviour was involved, Action, where you describe how you/the reviewee acted, and Consequence, or how this action impacts the team and the company. (Remember: Context, Action, Consequence. CAC.);
  3. Be kind to others: Reviewing others is always tricky, but with a few best practices, you’ll nail it fine. First of all, give concrete feedback: focus on practical examples of observed behavior, as opposed to gossip or personality traits. Second, be constructive: point to the future, on how this person can improve, and not on the spilled milk. Last, but not least, be considerate: remember to only express yourself in a manner that you’d be fine to be in the opposite side of the table. Concrete, constructive, and considerate;
  4. Take the most common cognitive biases into account: Cognitive biases cloud our judgment.


A Primer on Cognitive Biases

Horns and Halo Effect: When the overall impression of someone as generally amazing/terrible clouds judgment against new evidence that might point to the contrary.

Recency Effect: Tendency to remember the last few things someone did and to weigh them disproportionately.

Fundamental Attribution Error: Either paying too much attention to a person’s “ability” and not to the situation/context that impacted their performance, or vice versa.

Central Tendency: Playing it safe by rating reviews close to the midpoint.

Availability Bias: Mistaking what’s easy to bring to mind with what’s more frequent. Watch this video if you want to learn more about biases.

That’s it! Don’t forget to take these tips into account when doing your next performance review!