Critical first step to a great performance review

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Cindi Filer, CEO of Innovative Outsourcing shares helpful advice you can use. Second message in a three-part series on performance evaluations.

While some may feel that the performance reviews are a thing of the past, I have expressed my case for why this is still a relevant and critically important practice.

Now that we have established the “why” in performance reviews, you may assume that the next step is “how.” But wait! There is one very important step, and the success of your performance review strategy hinges upon this. Effective reviews first begin with a great job description. If you haven’t objectively communicated to your employee the measuring stick that will be used for evaluation, then you are setting yourself up for an ineffective performance review.  And the benefits of having functional job descriptions for all your employees adds key benefits that transcend reviewing performance. (Here are more reasons small businesses need job descriptions, and you may have never considered #5!)

What should an effective job description include? To be used as a springboard for evaluation, both the employee and the manager must a have a reference including concrete parameters of performance expectations.  

Are you feeling overwhelmed already?  Here is a step-by-step strategy that will work:

First, list the employee’s top six action items or requirements.

Next, assign a percentage of time they should work each month to fulfill each of those requirements. Here’s an example:  

  • 35% - Answer telephones, forward calls, and take messages to assure no dropped calls and no caller waiting for more than one minute on hold without being successfully transferred or speaking to you with an update on their anticipated wait time.
  • 30% - Complete accurate data entry of visitor information within one hour following their arrival.
  • 20% - Greet guests at the door, ensuring they are comfortable, they are offered a drink, and keep them updated on the anticipated wait time.
  • 15% - Perform office housekeeping and restock guest refreshments.

Lastly, the job requirement should also include a section for required education and prior experience necessary for the job. (This is a whole exercise in itself which we won’t cover at this time.) For the review process, the action item list and assigned percentages will become the basis for your performance review.  

Once you have this type of job description completed, then you have the foundation upon which your performance review can be based. In my message next week, we will use this as the springboard for planning the actual review.

Begin now! Identify who will be your company’s “owner” of the reviews. I have found that in many cases, CEOs are not driving reviews because it is too far down on their “to-do list.”  If this is that case, then consider assigning one manager that you trust to be the driver of this process.  Maybe it’s an outside consultant. (This is actually a service Innovative Outsourcing can provide.) One thing that stands in the way of an effective performance review strategy is making this a priority, and as a company leader, that initiative can begin with you.

In the meantime, I’d appreciate your feedback or questions on this topic.  Email me at