Skip to navigation
4 Min Read

3 Tips For Unlocking Employee Career Growth Through Performance Reviews

Courtney Bigony
Courtney Bigony

Whether you’re fresh into the workforce or 40-year a veteran–everyone wants a fulfilling career that aligns with their personal purpose. But, people don’t always have what they need to achieve their career goals. That’s where managers come in.  

For managers, helping employees map out their career goals and uncovering opportunities to lead them in the right direction shouldn’t only be done during weekly one-on-ones. These development conversations are especially vital during performance reviews.

Below, we share several science-inspired tips you can use during performance reviews to help employees create their dream role within the organization and maintain long-term engagement.

1. Make sure fairness reigns supreme

Unfortunately, only 29% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and 26% strongly agree they are accurate. Managers can help improve these stats by decoupling development conversations from compensation discussions, transparent and competitive pay policies, and creating a safe space for honest feedback and reflection. 

The research is clear, combining the two is demotivating and leads to perceived unfairness. At 15Five, we intentionally separate development from pay conversations, and instead, account for performance overtime to influence both. Managers can also ensure fairness by paying people enough to take money off the table (e.g., transparent pay policies and paying people fairly at or above market rate), setting employee performance expectations from the start, and basing the performance reviews on observable job behaviors rather than bias. Paying people well and fairly is an important baseline hygiene motivator and critical foundation. A lack of fair and strong pay leads to burnout, emotional exhaustion, and cynicism.

2. Identify your employees’ strengths and seek opportunities to hone them

Leading research shows that knowing your personal strengths and leveraging those strengths at work and in life contributes to vitality and long-term engagement. And strengths awareness and job alignment have a significant effect on employee engagement and productivity. However, only a third of individuals have a meaningful awareness of their strengths.

When managers have the tools and training to leverage their peoples’ strengths, during performance reviews, managers can help employees craft their roles around those unique strengths. This is vital to individual and organizational success because when employees can apply their strengths at work, they’re 18 times more likely to flourish

Once managers understand what energizes their employees and what led to their team members’ accomplishments, they can help replicate those circumstances to increase the quantity and quality of those wins in the future.

3. Focus on impact and purpose

Outside of leveraging individual strengths, 15Five also encourages employees to create individual objectives that align with and help to advance company goals. Objectives can be used to motivate employees by linking their efforts to company priorities, thereby imbuing high-leverage tasks with greater purpose and meaning. To increase meaningful work and motivation, employees can envision their future impact on the company and work with managers to map out next steps. 

Leverage these research-backed tips during performance reviews to help employees unlock their strengths and maintain engagement all year long. And if you’re looking for a research-based performance review solution, check out 15Five’s Best-Self Review®.

Courtney Bigony is the Director of People Science at 15Five, industry-leading people management software, where she developed Positive Product Design which aligns the product to the latest science of thriving. Courtney has a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, is the founder of The Deep Feedback Movement, and a Fellow at the Center for Evidence Based Management. She was named a 2019 Workforce Game Changer by Workforce Magazine and has contributed pieces featured in Forbes and Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter @CourtneyBigony.