Performance Reviews

The performance review is a crucial part of the ongoing dialogue between managers and employees.

It summarizes ongoing performance and development conversations and provides a record of past performance and expectations for work moving forward.

Best Practices

  • Shared responsibility in a collaborative and open feedback process
  • Recognition for contributions and coaching for improvements
  • Alignment of individual tasks to team and departmental goals
  • Clarification of expectations and resources
  • Acknowledgement of personal biases and making effort to mitigate them 
  • Commitment to continuous improvement and follow-through

Steps in the Performance Review Process

  • Manager and employee review job description and update as needed
  • Employee submits written Self-Assessment to manager
  • Manager solicits multi-rater feedback from colleagues, customers, and direct reports
  • Manager documents performance in written Annual Performance Review
  • Annual and mid-year conversations are held to align and adjust expectations and goals
  • Annual performance reviews are linked to MIT’s Annual Salary Review (ASR)
  • Manager and employee regularly discuss progress towards performance and development goals

Preparing for the performance review

When both the manager and employee prepare for the performance review, it can lead to an effective and meangingful review process. Begin the process by:

  • Reviewing documents and conversations
    • Last year’s performance review
    • Mid-year check-ins
    • Job description
    • Employee Self-Assessment
    • Notes accumulated during the year
  • Identifying the following:
    • Accomplishments
    • Progress on goals
    • Areas of exceptional performance
    • Areas of growth
    • Additional responsibilities taken on
    • Contributions to special projects
    • Challenges encountered
    • Areas where development is needed or desired
    • Key messages to convey

Writing the performance review

  • Use clear, concise language to describe:
    • Performance compared to agreed-upon expectations
    • Key accomplishments and contributions
    • Examples of strengths and development opportunities
    • Key expectations for the coming year
  • Focus on observable and measurable performance
  • Cite specific examples
  • Provide actionable feedback
  • Avoid vague statements and exaggerations
  • Celebrate successes and position shortfalls as an opportunity for learning and adjustment
  • Use bullet points, if desired

Preparing for the performance review conversation

The most important aspect of a performance review is the review conversation. Preparing for the conversation will help guide a productive conversation. Consider what to communicate and what you want to learn:

  • Review accomplishments, strengths, obstacles, and areas for development
  • Consider achievement towards goals and what might be needed moving forward
  • Determine the most important messages to convey
  • Determine the right setting and amount of time needed for the conversation
  • Be prepared to give and receive feedback

Having the performance review conversation

During the performance review conversation, the manager and employee should:

  • Review any agreed-upon “next steps” or commitments from the most recent performance conversation
  • Review successes since the last conversation, making sure to identify specific results achieved
  • Review any obstacles encountered since the last conversation. Why did they arise? What are some possible ways to deal with them?
  • Establish SMART goals for moving forward (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound)

After the performance review conversation

Following the performance review conversation, the manager and employee should:

  • Record notes from the meeting
  • Reflect on how the meting went and what you could do differently for future meetings
  • Plan for follow-up discussion on any open issues and to check in on goals

Learning Resources

Tools and Resources