You reviewed your employees' performance: Now what?

employee performance review

A review gives an employer evidence for action. Will you take it?

By Simon Casas
The HR Office

Acceptable or unacceptable? Good, satisfactory, needs improvement? Above expectations, meets expectations, below expectations?

There are many different terms you can use to describe employee performance. Unfortunately, some people get more concerned about the rating than what the term actually means.

Let’s get back to basics: All you need to identify is if employees are doing their jobs or not.

Do you really need a performance evaluation to tell you that?

Before I proceed, please understand that when I use the term “leader,” this includes owners, CEOs, presidents, supervisors, managers and any other department head title you may choose to use. The common denominator is that all of these leaders manage people.

In my example, let's use the following terms:

  • Above Expectations

  • Meets Expectations

  • Below Expectations

Here’s what these terms mean to me.

Above Expectations
The employee is doing more than expected. Generally speaking, this is a good thing. However, did the employee really rise above expectations? What did the employee do that was above and beyond what was expected?

Meets Expectations
The employee is doing the job as expected. Nothing more, nothing less. This may mean that the employee is content and lacks motivation to do more. However, it could also mean the employee is working hard to achieve this level of performance.

Below Expectations
This means that the leader has a problem to solve.

If the employee is doing less than expected, then a leader must ask “why?” Some of the answers may be:

  • The expectations were not realistic or obtainable (the leader’s fault)

  • The employee lacks the ability and skills to succeed at the job (the leader’s fault)

  • The employee does not understand the job (the leader’s fault)

  • The employee was not properly trained (the leader’s fault)

  • The employee was a bad hire (the leader’s fault)

  • The employee refuses to do the work as directed and expected (the employee’s fault).

You may disagree with me, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The leader has an obligation to help an employee succeed. If the leader cannot or will not commit to helping an employee succeed, then the leader should not hire the employee.

Regardless of an employee's final performance rating, the leader has a problem to solve. If the employee is above expectations, how does a leader help the employee continue to excel?

If the employee meets expectations, how does a leader help the employee grow?

If the employee performs below expectations, how does a leader help the employee move up to meet expectations?

This is not rocket science. It is common sense leadership guidance and every leader can use a dose of it. Remember, you don't need employees to help you fail; you need employees to help you succeed.


Simon Casas is the founder and principle of The HR Office and has more than four decades of experience providing human resources consultation and services to businesses, non-profits and government organizations.