Top Tips on Conducting Year-End Performance Reviews

As we approach year-end, managers are starting to think about conducting performance appraisals with their teams. It’s not just Santa who is making a “naughty” and “nice” list”!

Here we share some top tips for conducting performance appraisals and getting the most out of your year-end reviews.

 Communicate in advance

  • Send the employee an overview / refresher of the performance appraisal process.
  • Ask them to prepare in advance for the meeting – many performance appraisal processes include an employee self-appraisal as part of the process.
  • Be positive about the process – it is an opportunity to look back over the previous year, acknowledge work well done and identify mutually agreed solutions to any challenges.

 Prepare for the meeting

  • Analyse the employees progress over the last year by reviewing notes from one-to-one meetings, assessing progress against goals and noting any workshops / training they attended.
  • Make a note of any of the achievements you wish to recognise and the development areas you want to highlight.

 Be organised

  • Agree a time and place that works for both of you.
  • Make sure the location is private and that you will not be disturbed.
  • Schedule enough time so that the conversation will not be rushed.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Make sure the temperature of the room is comfortable and have water available.

 Set the tone

  • Use the first five minutes of the meeting to set a friendly tone and relax the employee – remember, not every employee looks forward to the performance appraisal meeting and some will be nervous.
  • Set an agenda for the meeting so that the employee knows what to expect.

 Catch up

  • Start the review by getting an understanding of how the employee is feeling and what highs and lows they have had since the last review.
  • Be an active listener.
  • Take the time to consider the employee’s motivations and abilities.


  • Give the employee performance feedback on what has gone well and what could be managed better in the future.
  • Always be specific in your feedback and have examples to illustrate your points.
  • Review the skill requirements of the role and discuss the areas in which they are exceeding expectations, are on target and areas below expectations.
  • Identify development needs and any supports required by the employee.
  • Where improvements are required, work on problem solving together rather than blaming. The conversation should be supportive and solution based!


  • Agree on objectives that the employee needs to work on between now and the next review.
  • Encourage the employee to play an active role in identifying these objectives. They are much more likely to be achieved if the employee is interested from the beginning!
  • Make sure any goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timebound).
  • Agree a development plan which will include mapping out any training or coaching that is required.
  • Remember that showing an interest in an employee’s professional and career development demonstrates that you are committed to their success and enhances their overall engagement and satisfaction.

Finally, here is a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in the forefront of your minds!

Do's and Don'ts on conducting year-end reviews

Our team of skilled and experienced HR Consultants are available to discuss any related matter that this article highlights for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on or call our office on 01 5252914.

Margaret McCarthy, HR Consultant