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  • Writer's pictureRalph Kellogg

HR - Fix My Performance Review Score!

If you are like me, at some point in your HR career you have received a complaint from an employee about their performance review score.


Some of the complaints I have received from employees regarding performance reviews include the following:

  • The review was unfair.

  • I did not know I was not meeting expectations until the review.

  • My manager does not like me and has it out for me.


How do we avoid these issues and ensure that leaders and employees are always on the “same page” regarding employee performance?


Performance reviews are nothing more than communication tools – performance reviews are the output of the performance development and management process.  


Organizations that only use the performance management process to communicate employee feedback will fail. In general, most people want to know how they are doing more than one time per year. It is the organization's responsibility to create an objective performance management process, and it is the leader’s job to create opportunities for feedback.


Here are some tips and ideas to keep employees informed on their performance and mitigate negative feelings that employees may adopt toward leaders, managers, and the performance review process.

Set Clear Performance Expectations

If employees do not know what is expected of them, leaders cannot realistically expect employees to meet or exceed performance expectations.

Establish clear performance expectations from the beginning. Employees should clearly understand what is expected of them in terms of goals, tasks, and behaviors.

Regular Feedback

Provide ongoing feedback throughout the year, not just during formal performance reviews. Regular communication lets employees understand their performance, make necessary adjustments, and feel more prepared for the official review.


Keep thorough records of employee performance throughout the year. Document achievements, areas for improvement, and any notable incidents. Having a comprehensive record can support the rationale behind performance scores.


Allow employees to conduct self-assessments before the official review. Make sure employees are educated on doing self-assessments. Employees need to understand the performance review process,

Calibration Meetings

Hold calibration meetings among managers to ensure consistency in evaluation standards. This helps avoid discrepancies and ensures that employees are evaluated fairly across teams.

Training for Evaluators

Train managers and evaluators on fairness, objectivity, and unbiased evaluations. Provide guidance on how to deliver constructive feedback and handle difficult conversations.

Eliminate Feedback After the Fact

Do not provide feedback to employees at the end of the performance review. For example, do not wait until the performance review to inform an employee where they fell short six months. Tell the employee in the moment, provide coaching where necessary, and allow them to course correct. 

Objective Criteria

Base performance assessments on objective criteria whenever possible. Use measurable goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and specific examples to support your evaluations.

Two-Way Communication

Encourage open and honest communication during coaching sessions and performance reviews. Allow employees to express their views, concerns, and achievements. This can help address any misunderstandings and foster a sense of fairness.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly review and refine your performance management processes based on feedback from employees and managers. This demonstrates a commitment to fairness and improvement.

By implementing these strategies, organizations can create a more transparent and equitable performance review process, reducing the likelihood of employees feeling that their scores were unfair.


Ensure everyone knows how the performance management process works, how objectives are determined, and the role everyone plays in the process. Remove the “man behind the curtain” and remove the mystery from the process. It promotes collaboration and connection when people clearly understand how a process works and what is expected of them.


These suggestions will not eliminate questions or resolve every issue related to the performance review process. However, implementing even a few ideas will help promote collaboration, connection, and transparency – rather than isolation, mystery, and negativity regarding the performance review process.  


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