6 Topics to Discuss in Every Performance Review

Nov 28, 2019 | Performance Management

Only three in ten employees feel they have a boss or mentor at work who supports their growth. As a manager, you can play a vital role in encouraging employee development by delivering an insightful, well-planned performance review. 

As you carry out the review, be sure to give employees the chance to respond to the points you make. That way, employees will feel validated, and you’ll gain a more thorough understanding of how to support their development. Encourage them to evaluate their own performance in advance so they can bring detailed input.

Here are six key topics that every performance review should address. By covering each of them thoroughly, you’ll give employees valuable insight that will help them make steady progress throughout the next review period.

Discuss Behaviour in Your Performance Review

Traits are extremely hard, if not impossible, to evaluate objectively. Focusing on behaviours and results allows you to provide well-grounded, concrete evidence of how an employee is performing. Give examples of specific actions that have benefited the team, encouraging employees to do those things more. Here are a few examples of positive behaviours:

  • Checks in on a daily basis with direct reports.
  • Produces clear visuals showing project results and shares them with the team. 
  • Delegates effectively and asks for help when needed.

Additionally, make a note of behaviors that need to improve, giving examples of what you would like employees to be doing.


Review the results of past projects to determine whether the employee’s contributions are increasing at the desired pace. Tracking results gives you clear metrics that demonstrate progress. 

Give employees a chance to share input on their actions and results, too. They might describe factors that influenced a project’s success that you weren’t aware of, for instance. Listening and considering this feedback will help you gain the full picture of how a project played out.

Discuss Success in Your Performance Review

Paint a vivid picture of what excelling in the employee’s role looks like. Go over key performance indicators (KPIs) of success. Then, point out ways in which employees reflect that high level of performance as well as ways in which they need to improve. By doing so, you can keep the tone positive even while discussing needs for further development, helping employees envision themselves becoming the image of success in their role. 

Ways to Overcome Challenges

When you determine areas where employees need to grow, ask them what challenges they are facing. Work to pinpoint the specific knowledge and skills they need to develop to excel in their role and progress in their career. Ask employees what types of learning experiences they feel they’ll benefit most from. Then, connect them with resources that will help them to grow the desired knowledge and skills, like training, mentoring, or coaching. 

Discuss Goals and Ambitions in Your Performance Review

Ask employees about their broader career ambitions to help them stay on a path that will bring them closer to achieving their career goals. Then, talk with employees about their goals and objectives for the next performance review period. Employees who play a central role in setting their own goals tend to be four times more engaged than other employees. Work with them to design a plan for achieving their goals. Finally, remind them of how these goals and their projects support the organizational vision and mission. 

Feedback on the Organization

Give employees the chance to offer feedback about their organization, team, and manager. When they have a chance to address factors that influence their performance, you’ll gain valuable input that will help you make positive changes in the organization itself. When you both have a chance to weigh in with feedback, the review will feel more like a conversation, too—which is usually more comfortable for both employees and managers. 

If employees aren’t prepared to give this feedback, ask specific questions, such as:

  • How could workflow improve within your team?
  • What resources could help you to do your job better?
  • How could we work to improve the organizational culture?

Have these formal reviews at least twice per year to ensure you address issues in a timely manner. In addition, be sure to check in on a regular basis to maintain strong communication and consistent coaching. By focusing your performance reviews on these key topics, you’ll encourage employees’ growth and help them advance to the next level. In turn, your employees will view these conversations as a chance to gain valuable feedback and support!

The Ultimate Performance Review Guide for Managers

Looking for tips on how best to handle employee performance reviews as a manager? Learn how to provide employees with valuable insight that will help them make steady progress throughout the next review period. Download this ebook for free!

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