Content created by Ali Uren Founder of Kiikstart

Unfortunately, most businesses see the job review as a tick-box process which needs to be done once a year but are unsure how to make performance reviews successful.   

The typical role review is often seen as something to fear and not trust, and once undertaken, it can lead to a sense of disappointment and uncertainty, largely for the employee. But also, for the Leader or Manager having to endure the pain of a typical process.


1. Adopt a creative and entrepreneurial approach to the style and manner of the review. For it to be beneficial it needs to create different thinking that can lead to self-reflection and new ideas for the coming 6 to 12 months.

2. Be clear on your motives and agenda upfront to build trust with the employee and maximize your time together. What do you want this dialogue to create/deliver for the business, the employee and yourself? State this clearly upfront and avoid the ambiguity that kills relationships/

3. Don’t focus purely on the role and the performance of the role responsibilities –adopt a bigger-picture strategic focus that looks at how the role helps achieve longer term business goals and delivers measurable impact.

4. Create a supportive and creative space so both parties can ask what if?

If we were to do different off the back of the ideas and insights shared in this review what could the future look like.

5. Avoid following a hierarchical, outdated business model that fails to bring forward genuine insights, ideas and observations from the employee. The employer tends to hold all the power traditionally.

6. Have truthful but respectful conversations around poor behaviour or underperformance well before you get to the role review stage.

7. Allow maximum opportunity to co-design action plans between the employer and employee post review.

8. Set consistent measures and processes for following up action in real-time. Many times, no clear action is even set post review.

9. Come first and foremost from a learning and development and business development mindset so you create an experience that can deliver real growth/stretch opportunities with the employee.  Not a typical HR perspective.

10. Always know what the emotional proposition is going to be. Identify how you want employees to think, feel and act as a result of the review and the behaviours and actions needed from you to achieve this.


When we design the role review as just an arbitrary process, the impact can be widespread across the workforce – beyond individual employees.

The fallout when the experience is poorly designed and executed can include:

  • heightened anxiety and fear about the overall process which affects workforce health and the ability to deliver high-value work
  • lack of trust amongst management and staff as they don’t know what to expect – the fear of the unknown
  • lack of development and growth within the staff as the same conversations occur year after year with nothing changing
  • little strategic value due to the narrow scope of focus within the review
  • minimal buy-in and accountability from both parties as the process doesn’t allow for reflection, thinking and acting
  • little creative thinking and ownership from both parties
  • lack of self-direction as often the conversation is one way – manager to staff
  • staff become stagnant and disempowered


For it to have real value to both the business and staff, it needs to be designed as a creative but strategic interaction between leaders and employees.

When planned and executed in the right way, you’ll get so many more opportunities from the time spent together.

This isn’t just a human resources function; it’s a learning and business development experience that can provide considerable insights into the business and how the future can be different.

We need to create a discussion that requires a higher level of interaction between leader and employee.

This approach requires both leader and staff member to:

  • self-reflect
  • think about different alternatives
  • come with solutions to skill gaps, risks or threats
  • work in partnership to deliver on the solutions


1. Set clear focus and intent in terms of what both parties want from this performance review so there’s no wasting of time.

2. Co-create an agenda between the parties well in advance, so it’s an open and fair experience with no hidden surprises. It also allows people to own the focus of the discussion – TOGETHER

3. There’s post review action for both parties to implement – it’s unavoidable.

4. All action is time-limited, which is essential, and has agreed, clear measurements for both parties.

5. Clear methods for follow-up are established between the parties so there’s a greater sense of accountability and buy in.


When we ask the right questions and create a supportive environment to unpack our roles, which is smart and honest, the business will gain strategic know-how that will guide better decisions.

Future success depends on creating a thinking and doing culture within our workforces to be able to do different.

So, what does this mean from a practical perspective?

  • A commitment to trialling new experiences is on the review agenda.
  • A conscious commitment from leadership to create a supportive and creative place for ideas, insights and observations to be discussed.
  • There’s an expectation backed by processes and systems of follow-up where ideas will be trialled and experimented in real time post review.
  • Staff report back on the trial and experimentation of ideas and initiatives with a focus on the following:
  • What worked well, and why?
  • What didn’t go to plan, and why?
  • Key lessons learnt from the experience that can lead to new ideas and build new opportunities for the future?
  • What ideas and lessons do they want to use back in their role that will benefit them, other staff, the business and our clients?
  • What resources and support will they need from the business to trial new ideas back into the business?

A final truth bomb to part ways on.


While it’s not always comfortable, management must also be brave enough to ask why staff aren’t performing well at times.

There’re key questions management must ask itself to deliver a valuable review:

What are the expectations of the business?

Are we honestly providing staff with the resources, processes, learning and support to deliver on our expectations?

If we aren’t, why not and who’s responsible for working with staff to provide a workable solution?

What resources will the business provide to ensure it can close the gap between expectation and staff reality?

Of course, there will be times when the business and employer are a poor fit and need to part ways.

More often it is a matter of a business not providing the resources, knowledge, support and environment to the workforce to deliver excellence.

Get the facts before making a conclusion as to why staff are underperforming. There are always external organizational factors to consider.  

Serious about creating a new approach to performance reviews that are great for people and the growth of the business at the same time? Please reach out at or

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