5 ways to fix performance evaluations

by Ryan Gardner | Nov 07, 2016

Too often performance evaluations can be exhaust, overwhelm, and often miss their true objective – helping people and companies grow.

“Managers know that stellar employee performance comes from empowering people and not micromanaging them,” says to David Hassell, CEO of 15Five.

To help, here are five ideas for helping HR and managers sure-up the performance review process and create real growth for their teams.


Whether you realize it or not, vague goals are your evaluation enemy. You can’t track “more leadership responsibilities” or “Grow my role within [insert area].” In addition, these vague objectives quickly become a lengthy list of hard to measure, well intended, subjective, review failures.

To avoid the black hole of vagueness, try what we call the “Seth Godin Goal Grip.” Check out his “Pick Four” strategy for setting and managing goals that (1) can be helpful to both managers and employees and (2) create a plan that employees can focus on and track every day.


It would be great if every business ran in accordance with a calendar. However as technology grows and work habits follow, reviewing by arbitrary calendar date could be robbing you and your team when it comes to reviews.

Common evaluation cycles – quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reviews – are a good place to start, but talk to your business leaders and employees during your next to explore if there’s a better time for your employees to get better feedback. Also, ask or look at planning cycles for your companies.

Maybe your business is on a unique cycle where all of the largest projects have two-month timelines. In this case, consider conducting a review after the completion of each of the significant projects. Many companies think that it’s standard to do semi-annual or annual reviews, but if that doesn’t fit with the flow of your business, it won’t be as valuable for you.


According to David Hassell notes, combining performance reviews with compensation talks creates an “adversarial conversation rather than a collaborative one.”

If the goal of your performance evaluation process is real coaching and growth, consider separating conversation about compensation.

After an evaluation, employees should leave with a plan for growth and goals. Attaching money can make it hard to focus or add negative anxiety around what could be a motivational moment.


Today, the administration behind performance evaluation can be more work than the conversation themselves. As you plan your next round, consider how free tools like Google Forms or Survey Monkey can help you collect and manage data.

In addition, apps like Culture Amp, BambooHR, and Namely can help to de-hassle the process and connect them with your other talent data and measurement.


The best innovations and opportunities to relieve stress in HR come from listening. Ask your employees what they want to see in performance evaluations.

Start from the bottom and work your way up – entry level through managers and the C-suite. Ask for feedback on your feedback process, including:

  • What questions do you want to see in performance surveys?
  • What evaluation cadence makes the most sense for you and why?
  • How do you prefer to measure your performance and progress?
  • What tools or metrics can we add to evaluations to make them more valuable?

These five questions are just a start to helping improve and fuel employee growth. One additional way is to consider boosting your benefits package with student loan benefits. If you’re interested in getting the data on how a student loan benefit could help your company, contact us below.

Happy Annual Review Season!


by Ryan Gardner | Nov 07, 2016

by Ryan Gardner | Nov 07, 2016

by Ryan Gardner | Nov 07, 2016