How to Run a Performance Review: 5 Steps to Greater Results [PART ONE]

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

Many project managers dread giving performance reviews as much as they dread giving presentations. Why is that? Well, much of our time in project management is spent building and nurturing relationships to get things done, so when we have to give a performance review, it can be very uncomfortable to evaluate performance of trusted team members, whether we are delivering good or bad news. To that end, I want to share five steps you can implement in your next performance review to achieve greater results. When I think of performance reviews I think of sports, because sports team members work together for the same result, to win. Similarly, the performance review is all about learning how to support someone so they can do their best in a role. We provide the training, skills, practice and feedback to make that person better for greater results. With that in mind, let’s look at the performance review.

What is a performance review?

Not to be circular, but if you Google performance review, it’s a review of performance. We can do a little better than that. If you think about the result you aim to achieve on your project, then that is the objective. Essentially, your objective is to strive for results and deliverables, and you need team members to perform to get those things done. You decide a person’s role and the deliverables they are responsible for; the review is a periodic check to evaluate performance and see how they are doing and what support they need to get the job done.

What are the benefits?

The first benefit of the performance review is better results. If it’s done in the proper way and the person gets support, guidance and candid feedback is exchanged, another benefit is that you will get valuable input so that you both win. People like to know you are there to support them. The benefits are both tangible and intangible.

There are five steps to this process: defining the performance review, preparing, conducting, writing up and then communicating the results of the performance review. Let’s break it down.

Step 1 – Defining

A performance review needs to be formally documented, in that it’s agreed upon, very specific and measurable. People need to know what is expected of them. You don’t want anyone to feel like they have been thrown into a job without knowing what their job responsibilities are, only to be told later that they missed their objective. We are to define the role they are playing, clearly. What are the results and the deliverables that they are responsible for, and what are the metrics? How are you going to measure to see how are they doing? We always measure, right? We measure how fast our kids are growing. We measure how fast we are at swimming, biking or running. We use metrics in our every day life, so in similar fashion, set metrics to measure a person’s activities against the results you are trying to achieve. Then, reward behavior when objectives are met, and support when they are not being met.

We’ll discuss the remaining 4 steps on tomorrow’s post.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt) of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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