Running Your Business

Performance Review Tips: Preparing Entry-Level Employees for Their First Review


  • A first-time employee may be unclear on what to expect from the review process, having never gone through it before

  • If one of your colleagues hasn't previously had a formal review, you'll want to help set their expectations

  • Managers should be providing feedback to subordinates all along, so nothing should come as too much of a surprise to the employee during their review

Posted by January 14, 2019

Performance review tips would seem to be something to give a new manager, but they can also be of benefit to an entry-level employee. If one of your colleagues hasn’t had a formal review before, you’ll want to help set their expectations. Otherwise, new employees may feel nervous and the discussion might not be as productive as it could be.

If you’re looking to help prepare an entry-level employee for their first review at your organization, here are a few things to consider.

The Components of a Performance Review

While each company’s process is different, there are generally three parts to an annual performance review. Making this clear before the meeting takes place can let the new employees know what to expect.

  • Self-evaluation. Unlike a school report card, employees are asked to fill out a report on how they think they did. This is especially important because, oftentimes, managers don’t know everything an employee accomplished during the year. In fact, the better an employee is, the less likely it is that their manager knows everything. Why? Because when everything is going great, the manager doesn’t have to hover or interject. So, the self-evaluation is critical for a fair evaluation. A new employee may not understand that this isn’t just a formality—managers want to know the details of their performance and how they think they did.
  • The formal review. The formal review is the most obvious part of this whole process. Every employee sits down with their manager and goes over the year’s successes and shortfalls. If goals were set for the year, the manager would evaluate how their subordinate did against each goal. In some companies, workers receive a formal “rating.” For instance, personnel can be rated on a scale of one through five, with five equating to “exceeded expectations” and one being “failed to meet expectations.”
  • Goal setting. Every performance appraisal should also include goal setting for the next year. Instead of being handed a list of benchmarks to strive for, employees need to play an active part in goal setting. Yes, the manager has the final say—but workers can often direct where they want to go with their career. One of the great performance review tips is that all parties should come prepared to talk about career goals. What type of path do you want to take? How about your team members? There is often flexibility in how a role is carried out, so be prepared to talk about different possibilities.

Give Advanced Notice of Jargon

Do you have your SMART goals ready for the year? SMART can stand for, Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely. Or it could mean Stretch, Motivational, Agreed Upon, Realistic and Trackable; even the jargon can differ between companies! So, if an experienced professional comes in not knowing exactly what your organization’s jargon means, you certainly can’t expect the new hire to know either.

You can talk all you want about KPIs, but your colleagues may feel ignorant asking what the acronym means. Telling an employee in advance that “we’re going to talk about key performance indicators, or KPIs,” can help a lot in getting everyone on the same page.

Performance Reviews Shouldn’t Be Scary (or Shocking)

If the managers at your company have been trained properly, they’ve been providing feedback to their subordinates all along—so nothing should come as a surprise to anyone. Workers should know whether discussions will be positive or negative going into the meeting. Again, just the act of knowing ahead of time can help the conversation be more productive.

It’s important that you communicate clearly with everyone in the office about the upcoming performance review process, but keep an extra eye on entry-level employees so they know what to expect.

Searching for new tools and resources that can help your employees manage their benefits? Explore the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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