Tips from a Trainer: Performance Reviews

By Mary Lucal, Director of Talent Management in the UT System Office of Employee and Organizational Development

Mary-Lucal-photoIf performance reviews are a dreaded topic in your department, don’t wait until the next review deadline to do something about it. Take steps now to ensure you’re contributing to a productive process.

When teaching the “Performance Review” training course, I work with both supervisors and employees to help them understand core concepts, to share tips and experiences and to emphasize the need to make the performance review part of an ongoing process rather than a one-time conversation.

If you’re interested in learning more about ways to improve what can be a stressful process, email me at “a href=””> The “Performance Review” course also is offered in an online version available

Tip 1: Feedback throughout the Year

Performance reviews should be thought of as a process, not an event. During the review period, there should be multiple opportunities for check-ins to discuss how things are going, ask for help or give recognition. When this happens, the actual review becomes a natural outgrowth of those conversations. By avoiding surprises and instead building on past conversations, performance reviews can be forward-looking and beneficial for both parties.

Tip 2: Use Previous Review as a Roadmap

It’s important to reflect on previous reviews to ensure goals are being met and areas for improvement are being monitored. The previous review and goals can’t be helpful tools if they’re put in a drawer and forgotten.

Tip 3: Put Energy into the Relationship

Performance reviews are always more productive when there’s a comfort level between you and your supervisor or staff. If there’s discomfort, both parties have to be willing to address it. This can be a delicate issue but is one that can make a big difference.

“Tips from a Trainer” appears in every issue of For Your Benefit. To read previous Tips, visit