How Do I Conduct an Effective Performance Review?

Dear B.I.N.G. (Beverage Industry Networking Group),

I just became head brewer, and this is my first time ever managing a staff. I know I need to give people job performance reviews, but my company has never done them before. I want to set it up right and make sure I’m offering people feedback that they can actually use. Help! Is there a formula for this process?

Head Janitor



Dear Head Janitor,

Congratulations on becoming a manager! Implementing a performance review system can be a large responsibility that involves many steps. To begin, we would recommend starting with the basics listed below:


1. Start with job descriptions:
 Ensure you have updated job descriptions. Job descriptions specify the essential functions (key duties) of each role, and these essential functions are what you will use to evaluate each person. Job descriptions should be reviewed each year for accuracy.


2. Create forms and procedures:
 Create manager evaluation and employee self-evaluation forms for each position. Using the essential functions of each role, include goals/outcomes to be measured for each employee.


3. Create a schedule:
 Identify the best time of the year to conduct reviews by avoiding your company’s busy periods. Set a specific review schedule, whether that is monthly, quarterly or annually, and communicate it to your employees.


4. Track your employees’ performance:
Because employee performance, both positive and negative, occurs continuously, we recommend creating a file (electronic or paper) for each employee and update it with any performance items as observed or discussed in real time. This will help you remember everything you’ll want to address in the review meeting.


5. Schedule and prepare performance reviews:
As the time nears to conduct reviews, use the following steps:

Schedule a private, one-on-one meeting for the conversation. Do not allow interruptions — no exceptions!

A few weeks before the meeting, have employees complete their self-evaluation form.

Review the job description and each employee’s file for performance documentation collected throughout the year. Complete the manager evaluation form.

Once you have mastered the basics, we recommend conducting regular check-ins with employees. These meetings should allow you and the employee to discuss behaviors you want them to begin doing right away, stop doing immediately or continue to do in real time.


Therefore, when the annual review comes along, nothing that is discussed comes as a surprise.


Delivering constructive feedback is the most important part of a performance review. Below are some basic guidelines to remember as you prepare:

Work with the employee to achieve results.

Respectful, non-punitive:
Coaching is not an opportunity to punish a poorly performing employee; it’s an opportunity to address an employee’s inherent worth with an attitude of respect and service.

Plan clear talking points:
Don’t try to wing it. Plan ahead by outlining specifics that need to be discussed.

Discuss issues one at a time:
Try to avoid addressing multiple issues all at once — talk about each topic as it arises. If there are multiple incidents or examples to discuss, go through each of them individually.

Stay on topic:
Avoid going off on tangents. Don’t allow the discussion to veer off into past incidents or what other employees do/don’t do. Stick to the topic at hand.

Ask open-ended questions:
Ask questions that engage the employee in the problem-solving process: “What do you think is the best way to…?”, “What do you think would happen if you…?”, “How can I help you figure out a better way to…?”

Avoid common mistakes:
The most common mistakes that managers make either reflect a lack of collaboration or just poor word choice. Talking too much, not really listening or losing control of your emotions undermine the process. Avoid using blaming words like “you,” “always” and “never.”

Good luck working toward your first round of performance reviews!

All the best,




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