What is the Right Way to Conduct a 90 Day Performance Review?

John Krautzel
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In most companies, a 90-day performance review is standard for new hires, but many managers don't give this process a whole lot of thought. When done right, this review is a great opportunity for both parties to give feedback and learn from each other. Take the time to follow these five steps to ensure every new employee gets the feedback they need to become long-term assets for your organization.

1. Watch Your Language

Unless you live in Montana or your employees work under a contract, avoid referring to the first 90 days as a probationary period. In the other 49 states, employees generally work at-will, meaning that the employment can be terminated at any time for no particular reason. If you use the phrase "probationary period," it could be construed that you are giving up that right after those 90 days.

2. Stick to a Date

Set a date and time for that first performance review right away, preferably during the initial onboarding process. This reduces anxiety for your new hire by removing any ambiguity around the review and ensures you don't forget to complete the review in a timely manner.

3. Do Your Research

Keep a standard list of topics for 90-day performance reviews, and be sure to gather information on your new employee's performance in these areas before the review date. Topics to cover should include areas in which the employee needs more training, the employee's aptitude for the position and cultural fit for the department, how the employee handles their workload, and things the employee does satisfactorily and extremely well. During the actual performance review, stick to your agenda to ensure you cover everything.

4. Get Feedback

Be sure to get your employee's input in each area of your agenda, and ask for general feedback at the end of the performance review. The employee may need training in an area you haven't observed or may need your help adjusting to company culture. Be sure to ask specifically if there are improvements you can make to help your employee perform their job better. Getting feedback shows that you value your employee's position and sets a good tone for your ongoing manager-employee relationship.

5. Go Over Policies

At the end of the performance review, take a few moments to go over company policies that directly affect the employee. Although this was likely done during the hiring process, oftentimes, employees miss things due to the excitement and anxiety associated with starting a new job. Also, some policies may not make sense until after the employee has worked for your organization for a while. This review of policies gives the employee a chance to ask questions they may not have had before actually working in the position.

Never wait for a performance review to tell any employee their work is inadequate. If a new employee is having serious issues, provide additional help and training immediately. By the 90-day performance review, the employee should be aware of the problems and not surprised at being let go. Thank him for his effort, and wish him well in finding a job that is a better fit.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Gerald K.
    Gerald K.

    90 day reviews are a great way to let your new hire know if they are hitting the goals you have for them. Never stop teaching your employees, they are what makes a good company great.

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