The Do's and Don'ts of Employee Reviews

By Karen Ensley, Board-Certified Construction Law Attorney


  1. Match performance appraisals and performance plans to measurable objectives. Develop performance goals in an objective way so you can make meaningful assessments of performance.
  2. Align the results of the performance appraisal with other anticipated personnel decisions. It sends mixed messages if managers give employees poor performance appraisals and then reward employees with a promotion or raise.
  3. Make the performance review process a partnership between the manager and employee. Both sides should participate. We suggest that managers give employees a list of questions for discussion before the actual review. The process should be designed to help the employee be successful, rather than simply creating a path to termination. 
  4. Hold supervisors and managers accountable for effective administration of the review process. Make it part of their performance reviews. 
  5. Train managers in how to conduct performance appraisals. Companies often promote individuals into management positions without giving them the proper training on conducting reviews.


  1. Avoid making common errors in conducting performance reviews. These include focusing on one good or bad aspect and letting that overshadow the entire review. Another common mistake is to remember only the most recent event when completing the review. The most common mistake is for managers to do ineffective reviews because they are afraid to be too critical or offer too much praise. Favoritism is another issue.
  2. Don't have performance reviews that are inconsistent within a department. Inconsistencies pave the way for lawsuits.
  3. During the hiring process, don't make promises regarding performance reviews unless you plan to follow through. Making promises, such as saying you conduct annual reviews and then failing to keep those promises is one of the red flags in litigation.
  4. Don't have the contents of the performance review be a surprise to the employee. The employee should be able to anticipate what will happen in the review.
  5. Similarly, don't wait until the performance review to mention areas that need improvement. It is important to address disciplinary or performance issues when they occur. That way, if the employee corrects the problem before the review, the manager can recognize that as a positive element in the review.
  6. Whenever possible, conduct quarterly or twice yearly reviewed. Employees will appreciate the feedback and less than optimal behavior can be addressed sooner because it becomes part of the formalized review process. 

We also strongly recommended that employers separate the performance appraisal discussion from the conversation on pay. If the two issues are discussed at the same time, managers will write the reviews with the possible salary change in mind.  

Karen Ensley
Ensley Benitez Law, PC
469-983-6500© Karen Ensley and Brian Benitez, Ensley Benitez Law, PC, 2021. All rights reserved. This article is provided for educational reasons exclusively and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. Ensley Benitez Law, PC, will represent you only after being retained and that agreement is made in writing.

Feb 28th 2022

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