Manager Performance Review: A 5-Step Guide and Examples - Spiceworks (2023)

Manager performance evaluation is key to ensuring that your organization’s mid-tier employees are aligned with organizational targets, such that they can successfully translate these targets to ground-tier team members who report to them. We explain the 5 key steps to effective manager performance evaluation.

Managers are among the most critical assets of any organization. They are responsible for encouraging employees, mobilizing their talent, and looking after productivity. They are typically responsible for final target achievement. A good manager will ensure the timely delivery of tasks and create a healthy working environment. Conversely, non-performing managers will negatively impact team target achievements and overall morale.

That’s why a manager’s performance review is such an important part of your workforce management plan. It seeks to identify the right performance goals for managers, evaluate and acknowledge their contributions and achievements, and further improve their capabilities.

Why You Need to Reimagine the Manager Performance Evaluation Process

Research suggests that a company’s managers require special attention when formulating a performance managementOpens a new window framework. Here’s why (insights from TalentLMS’s survey Opens a new window of 500 respondents have major implications for companies):

  • More than 1 out of 3 employees turn to their manager when they feel overwhelmed.
  • 51% of managers said that they were happier before they became managers, and 62% agree that a sense of “isolation” set in after they were promoted. There is a clear need for regular feedback to engage managers and ensure interconnectedness for this workforce group.
  • Only 41% of managers said that they have received role-specific training in the past month. By assigning clear performance goals for managers, which have corresponding learning key performance indicatorsOpens a new window , companies can help managers become more agile and adapt to the requirements of their dynamic job roles.

5 Steps for Effective Manager Performance Evaluation

The staid annual review cycle, where employees go through appraisals once in a year and the manager is evaluated based on how their teams perform, is no longer enough. Instead, companies should consider a five-step journey that involves a broad range of stakeholders, to gain a 360-degree view of manager performance.

By formulating a coherent and future-ready manager performance evaluation framework, you can strengthen these relationships and upskill managers where needed – enabling them to drive up productivity per-employee. This involves six key steps:

1. Continuous manager performance evaluation and management

Continuous performance evaluation and management implies that managers receive periodic feedback on their work rather than just once or twice in an annual or bi-annual review. They can act on the feedback and immediately course-correct without waiting for the appraisal season to come around, which might already be too late.

This doesn’t mean we do not need annual review cycles. While continuous performance management focuses on the day-to-day performance of managers, annual meetings can be focused on discussing compensation and benefits based on overall performance and giving managers career growth opportunities.

2. Clearly define and quantify performance goals for managers

A common pitfall faced when setting performance goals for managers and evaluating manager performance is generic goal setting.

Let’s say a company requires its managers to be “inspiring” and “calm.” Words like these can be ambiguous and difficult to achieve via on-ground performance. Moreover, how can these traits be measured?

Instead, you can break down the word “inspiring” into attainable criteria – Does the manager encourage employees to take ownership? What is the rate and value of innovation witnessed in that particular team? Do employees agree that there is a purpose in their work?

Apart from making goals attainable, it is also a good idea to personalize goals for each manager’s domain – this is particularly relevant for teams where productivity can be measured in quantifiable terms.

Let’s take the simple example of a manufacturing plant, where one team is responsible for assembly and another for packaging. The manager of the assembly team can have a personalized performance goal of reduction in defect rate by X% in a quarter. The manager of the packaging team, meanwhile, could be assigned a performance goal of X items sent to shipping per quarter.

You can additionally personalize these goals based on past performance, targeting specific gaps detected and addressed via learning and developmentOpens a new window in the last quarter/year.

3. Collect data from self, peer, and team reviews

The data for evaluating manager performance cannot be one-dimensional. Managers interact with several stakeholders daily, including juniors, seniors, and peers. Also, a typical manager will have a cross-disciplinary impact, where their job involves regular communication with several teams/departments in your company.

That’s why it is recommended to collect data from three channels (apart from the traditional manager feedback):

  • Self-review: Managers are given a self-review form, where they rate their performance based on the attainable and personalized criteria defined in the previous step.

Self-reviews are validated by feedback from other stakeholders – but this is a great opportunity to ask open-ended questions and discover performance highlights that might have gone unnoticed.

  • Peer-review: Team leaders in the same department, as well as managers from different business units, are invited to share their feedback.

This shines a light on the manager’s interpersonal skills, their ability to coordinate between tasks, and their understanding of the shared company vision. Based on peer reviews, you can chart a career progression pathway for your managers, identifying the potential areas for lateral transfer.

  • Team member reviews: This is among the most critical elements of managers’ performance evaluation. A manager’s direct as well as indirect team members share their views on performance. Given that a manager’s primary responsibility is team building and resource optimization, the opinion of those working under them matters hugely.

Data from these three sources can be combined with the ratings provided by the manager’s manager before arriving at a performance improvement profile.

Learn More: How to Train New Employees: 5 Steps for PlanningOpens a new window

4. Assign an action point for every performance goal that you set for managers

Each goal can have either a positive or negative outcome. In other words, managers may be rated either above or below average for a specific performance parameter. Both these outcomes should be linked to an action point for your manager’s performance evaluation to be truly effective.

In the case of positive outcomes, you can suggest career growth and additional new responsibilities – for example, the manager of a software development team who obtains an impressive score in conflict resolution and problem-solving might have a future in Ops. You could even recommend that the manager becomes a mentor, guiding new recruits who join the company in similar roles.

On the other hand, if the manager scores well below the company average, it is time to recommend course-corrective measures.

An important note here: Goals for manager performance should be segmented as must-haves and nice-to-haves. An average score on a nice-to-have parameter can be deprioritized. However, managers must maintain a steady performance rate for must-have skills.

Domain expertise, teamwork, foresight, and responsiveness are some of the must-have performance goals for managers, regardless of industry or business unit.

5. Deploy learning and development (L&D) intervention

A rigorous performance review process is of no use if it doesn’t lead to measurable improvements in the long run. This is why the final step in completing the evaluation process is learning and development (L&D). Here are some of the methods you can consider to upskill your managers and boost their performance:

  • Executive coaching: Executive coaching for managers is vital, as it equips them with the requisite soft skills needed to navigate a diverse and multilayered workforce. Interestingly, coaching doesn’t have to be limited to C-minus or senior leaders – middle managers too can benefit from this approach.
  • Reverse mentorships: In a reverse mentorship, a manager is paired with a direct report to learn emerging skills and new perspectives. It can be invaluable in building empathy, as the manager gains a first-hand understanding of how their team members approach work and complete tasks. It also highlights latent challenges within a team, which the manager can address in the next performance evaluation cycle.
  • Minternships: This is primarily geared for managers who have displayed outstanding potential in an area beyond their immediate domain of expertise. They can shadow peers in other departments to pick up new skills and diversify their capabilities.

Finally, you can consistently monitor learning metrics to gauge how far the manager has progressed on their assigned performance improvement track.

Learn More: Top 8 Best Practices for Employee Cross-TrainingOpens a new window

Manager Performance Review Examples from Leading Companies

Review structures for managers vary widely from company to company. And most keep their approach strictly confidential to retain a competitive edge. Five top-performing companies present great examples of manager performance review approaches:

1. Facebook

Facebook analyzedOpens a new window approximately 10,000 employees to identify the most satisfied/engaged teams. This revealed common traits among Facebook’s top-performing managers: caring about others, promoting growth, transparency, responsiveness, being helpful, recognition, and accountability. These could be among your core goals for manager performance.

2. Google

Google asks employees to rate their managers on 11 parametersOpens a new window , ranging from “no micro-management” to technical expertise. The company also asks two open-ended questions: Which is the element that managers should a) keep doing and b) stop doing? If you’re interested, this particular template for manager performance feedback is publicly availableOpens a new window .

3. Starbucks

At Starbucks, managers and employees continually measure each other’s performance via informal observationOpens a new window of day to day work. Managers receive 360-degree feedback from peers as well as junior executives. This tactic promotes transparency, ideal for small teams like those at each Starbucks outlet. Managers can act on feedback in real-time, improving performance incrementally.

4. McDonald’s

McDonald’s has a highly structuredOpens a new window manager performance appraisal framework, with clearly defined goals such as knowledge of work, expense management, and safety. Each manager is rated either unsatisfactory, below expectations, meets expectations, exceeds expectations, or outstanding. McDonald’s even explains what a positive review and a negative review implies.

5. Netflix

At NetflixOpens a new window , both managers and employees follow an “honor system” where everyone is expected to act in Netflix’s best interest. Managers are regularly trained and motivated so that they can build great teams. A key performance goal for managers at Netflix is ownership of culture – corporate policies and a casual, innovation-friendly startup culture shouldn’t be at odds with each other.

Learn More: What Is Employee Appreciation? Definition, Strategies, Ideas, and Technology PlatformsOpens a new window

There’s no Single Right Way of Conducting a Manager Performance Review

As these manager performance review examples suggest, there is no single “right” way of doing it. Your goals, measurement framework, and action plan will depend on the nature of your business, the culture you promote, and the baseline set by managers in historical performance review cycles.

However, the six-step framework we suggested can be an effective launchpad, even as you tweak specific elements and customize your managers’ journey. Ultimately, it’s all about making your managers feel valued and motivated (as opposed to mere drivers of the on-ground workforce and giving them the requisite tools and opportunities to maximize their potential.

What is your approach to evaluating manager performance? Tell us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to hear more about your strategy!


What are the 5 steps of performance management process? ›

All five component processes (i.e., planning, monitoring, developing, rating, rewarding) work together and support each other, resulting in natural, effective performance management.

What are example performance review phrases for managers? ›

Always manages their time well and is extremely well-organized.” “Displays endless drive to improve productivity, profits, and meet business goals.” “Your excellent work ethic speaks for itself.” “Consistently contributes measurable value to company goals and projects.”

How do you review a manager in performance review? ›

What to write in a performance review for a manager?
  1. Discuss strengths. Discuss the manager's strengths and level of expertise and how they have contributed to their success in the role.
  2. Identify areas of improvement. Identify areas where the manager could improve their performance.

What should I write in a performance review example? ›

Most reviews will include your evaluation of the employee's performance in areas such as:
  • Quality and accuracy of work.
  • Ability to meet established goals and deadlines.
  • Communication skills.
  • Collaboration skills and teamwork.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Attendance and dependability.
Jun 2, 2022

What are the 5 C's of performance management? ›

These five elements; Create, Comprehend, Communicate, Collaborate and Confront, form the basis of an effective people management approach.

What is Big 5 in performance management? ›

The list today is known as the Big Five: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism/emotional stability and openness to experience. People who are categorized as being high in agreeableness tend to be accommodating and helpful in the workplace, as they want to please others.

How do I write a performance review for myself as a manager? ›

4 Tips for Writing an Effective Self-Evaluation
  1. Be specific and provide examples. Specificity helps contextualize claims. ...
  2. Back up your contributions with metrics. ...
  3. Frame weaknesses as opportunities. ...
  4. Keep track of your accomplishments throughout the year.
Jun 8, 2021

How to do you evaluate performance for a manager? ›

💡 7 Steps to manager performance success
  1. Ensure confidentiality.
  2. Create clear performance indicators.
  3. Tailor the review to the specific manager.
  4. Hold a 360 performance review.
  5. Provide tangible examples.
  6. Proactively gather feedback and provide regular check-ins.
  7. Act on feedback.
Dec 9, 2022

What are the 5 performance ratings? ›

This is more often than not a 5 point rating scale (5– Outstanding, 4– Exceeds Expectations, 3- Meets Expectations, 2- Needs Improvement, 1- Unacceptable).

What are the 3 skills of a manager? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process:
  • Technical skills.
  • Conceptual skills.
  • Human or interpersonal management skills.

What is manager role in performance review? ›

Managers are responsible for providing employees with constructive feedback on a regular basis. Throughout the evaluation period, managers give their employees ongoing support, feedback and counseling on performance issues and, when necessary, disciplinary and corrective action.

What are some sample positive performance review comments? ›

You are very punctual and have shown excellent work behaviors in every aspect of the job.” "Shows a strong work ethic by consistently staying until all daily tasks are completed.” "You consistently go above and beyond by exceeding your quarterly goals.”

What are positive things to say in a performance review? ›

Positive Feedback
  • “You're a strong team player.”
  • “Your coworkers appreciate you and respect you.”
  • “You're a reliable team member and coworkers know they can count on you to get the job done.”
Mar 9, 2021

How do you write an overall performance comment? ›

When writing overall performance review comments, you should highlight the accomplishments of the employee. While the review is supposed to be objective, you should also ensure that you validate the achievements of the employee by providing ample examples of how they have met some of their KPIs.

What are the 4 pillars of managing performance? ›

The cycle of performance is based on 4 key pillars: planning, monitoring, reviewing and rewarding.

What are the 6 A's of management? ›

Today's "A" marketers demonstrate six best-practice competencies: alignment, accountability, analytics, automation, alliances, and assessment. We call these the Six A's of Marketing Performance Management.

What is the Big 5 analysis? ›

Many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the "Big 5" personality traits. The Big 5 personality traits are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

What are the five personality traits of employees? ›

What Are the Big Five Personality Traits? The best way to remember the Big Five Personality Model traits is to remember the acronym OCEAN: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

What is the workplace Big 5 assessment? ›

The Big Five (OCEAN) personality test evaluates candidates across five personality traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

How do I write a summary of myself for a performance review? ›

How to write a performance self-evaluation
  1. Make a list of your positive attributes. To write a self-performance review, first determine where you are in your professional career. ...
  2. Reflect on your accomplishments. ...
  3. Reflect on your mistakes. ...
  4. Close with opportunities to grow.
Mar 16, 2023

What are your 3 improvement areas? ›

Examples of areas of improvement
  • Time management.
  • Experience.
  • Engagement.
  • Communication.
  • Accepting feedback.
Mar 10, 2023

How do I comment on my own performance? ›

Positive self appraisal comments
  1. I have a clear understanding of what I am expected to do as a part of my role.
  2. I understand the value my work is able to contribute to the overall organizational success.
  3. I was able to meet 80% of my OKRs in the last quarter.
  4. I stay updated on the latest trends and insights in my field.

What is the best manager judging criteria? ›

The criteria for evaluating a manager's performance varies among organizations, but generally important qualities include an ability to communicate well, behave ethically, achieve organizational results and manage employees effectively.

How do you define a good manager? ›

Eight common traits of high-scoring managers:
  1. Be a good coach.
  2. Empower the team and do not micromanage.
  3. Express interest/concern for team member's success and personal wellbeing.
  4. Be very productive and results-orientated.
  5. Be a good communicator – listen and share information.
  6. Help the team with career development.

What is a 5 point rating performance review? ›

Consistently exceeded performance requirements (5)

Performance at this level is considered extraordinary. This rating is characterized not only by achieving exceptional results in terms of quality, quantity and timeliness, but by consistently going beyond those normally expected for the position.

What is the 5 factor rating scale? ›

Self-report assessment of antagonism

Each item is rated on a 1–5 scale where 1 is extremely low, 2 is low, 3 is neither high nor low, 4 is high, and 5 is extremely high.

Why use a 5 point performance rating scale? ›

The 5 point employees rating system provides a midpoint

Performance rating scale 1 to 5 always has a midpoint for those who have got the average performance review. Below the midpoint is the employees who need improvement and above it are the employees who have worked beyond expectations.

What is the strongest skill as a manager? ›

Best skills of a good manager
  1. Communication and interpersonal skills. ...
  2. Listening skills. ...
  3. Relationship-building skills. ...
  4. Emotional intelligence. ...
  5. Organization and project management. ...
  6. Strategic thinking. ...
  7. Decision-making. ...
  8. Trustworthiness and respect.
Mar 28, 2023

What is the #1 skill that you need as a manager? ›

1. Good communication. Having good communication skills is probably the most important skill of all for managers to have. Unless you can properly communicate with those you supervise, the rest of the skills really won't matter.

What are the top 3 characteristics of a manager? ›

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Manager
  • Leadership Skills. In order to be an effective manager, you need to be able to lead your employees in an efficient manner. ...
  • Professional Experience. ...
  • Good Communication Skills. ...
  • Knowledge. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Time Management Skills. ...
  • Delegation. ...
  • Confidence.

What not to say on a performance review? ›

Avoid using words like "always" and "never" in employee appraisals. Employees rarely "always" or "never" do something, whether it is positive or negative. Using extremes can leave you open to employees who want to argue and prove that they did what you accused them of "never" doing.

What are the 4 major process of performance management? ›

The steps in the performance management process can be broken down into four broad categories: Planning, coaching, reviewing and rewarding. Each step is equally important, and together form the backbone of a company's performance management process.

What are the 3 R's of performance management? ›

Part of that accountability involves ensuring that the employee has put in the time for research, reflection and review. Making the three Rs part of your consistent performance process will lay the foundation for continued success.

What are the basic steps of performance management? ›

  • Performance Management Process. ...
  • Planning Phase Overview. ...
  • Write S.M.A.R.T. Goals. ...
  • Set Performance Standards. ...
  • Define Behaviors. ...
  • Coaching Phase Overview. ...
  • Provide Feedback. ...
  • Give Effective Feedback.

Which six 6 steps should be included in a managing performance checklist? ›

The following checklist has been created to help you manage underperformance in your business.
  • Step 1: Identify the issue. □ ...
  • Step 2: Assess the issue. □ ...
  • Step 3: Meet with your employee. □ ...
  • Step 4: Jointly devise a solution. □ ...
  • Step 5: Monitor performance. □ ...
  • Step 6: Keep records. □

What is performance management model? ›

The performance management process is intended to create an ongoing dialogue between the supervisor and employee. The Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness recognizes the PCER (Plan, Coach, Evaluate, and Reward) model for facilitating the performance management process.

What is the performance management cycle plan? ›

What are the four stages of a performance management cycle? A typical performance management cycle is divided into four stages: planning, monitoring, developing, rating & rewarding. After this, the cycle starts again.

What is the performance management review process? ›

The performance management process is an ongoing series of meetings and check-ins between a manager and employee that plans, monitors, and reviews the employee's objectives, long-term goals, and overall impact on the company.

What is a performance management checklist? ›

Performance Management Checklist can help confirm achievements and identify development needs for team members. Whist optimising job satisfaction can keep people motivated and encourage them to stay within the business rather than move on.

What is the checklist method of performance evaluation? ›

With a checklist scaleA performance evaluation method in which a series of questions is asked and the manager simply responds yes or no to the questions., a series of questions is asked and the manager simply responds yes or no to the questions, which can fall into either the behavioral or the trait method, or both.


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