Quarterly Employee Review: an opportunity for performance improvment

Employee quarterly review is an opportunity for ninja performance improvement

A better way to administer the quarterly employee review

For many companies, the quarterly review of employees is a missed opportunity for performance improvement.

Here’s how to prevent that from happening at your business.

How to use the employee quarterly review for performance improvement


When used properly, the quarterly employee review (QER) can be a key tool to maximize employee’s performance improvement.

Best practice is to have the quarterly employee review (QER) be part of an employee development plan. This engages the employee and manager in collaboration together.

Instead, quarterly reviews are usually a pro-forma process where the company evaluates the employee.

This puts managers into the position of being the ‘bad guy’ who has to evaluate the employee from a one sided perspective.

This is because the typical quarterly review involves manager-only appraisal:

  • The manager reviews what the employee is doing right in their job role and what needs improvement

  • Manager covers all the topics and checks off all the boxes that HR requires

  • Manager and employee review employee’s achievement of goals for the quarter

  • Manager offers feedback of their assessment

This kind of pro-forma appraisal process encourages the employee to stay within a narrow operating range.

In fact, both manager and employee will end up just covering their butt (CYA) to meet the employer’s performance standards.

The quarterly employee review as a way to improve employee relations 

This is unfortunate because the employee quarterly review has the potential to be a great employee relations tool.

It is chance for better communications between employer and manager to build a wide scope of performance improvement.

A more effective approach to maximize the quarterly review is making it part of an employee development plan based on the employee’s job description. It is the ideal way to truly engage the employee in performance improvement at their quarterly review.

Using an individual career development plan to supercharge your employee review

An individual career development plan is a performance improvement tool administered by employers. It is used to strengthen employee job performance in their career discipline.

Used as part of a quarterly employee review, it can supercharge the employee job performance.

The career development plan is also referred to as an employee development plan or a professional development plan. It depends on how and where it is being implemented.

A good template for an employee development plan is one based on the employee’s job description proficiencies. This makes the employee quarterly review a perfect way to administer and course correct employees development.

Try this resource for complete instructions, templates and employee development plan examples:

How an employee career development plan addresses job role proficiencies as part of the quarterly employee review process

There are three areas of an employee’s job role proficiencies that should be part of the employee quarterly review:

  • Key job role functions

  • Job role support proficiencies

  • “Soft skills” such as interpersonal communication and behavioral skills; this can include leadership development goals and professional development

These 3 separate ‘buckets’ of proficiencies allow an employer tremendous flexibility in developing employees.

For example if they have behavioral issues you can focus on soft skills proficiencies. If they have technical skill deficiencies you can focus on job role support, etc.

All the while, you are removing the manager from the confrontational aspect of employee development.

How an employee development plan can drive employee engagement strategies

The innovation of an EDP is how it engages the employee and empowers a level playing field:

  • The employee first completes the individual career development plan by themselves, rating themselves on each of their job proficiencies. This gives them a feeling of contribution to the quarterly review process, reducing their stress and anxiety while increasing their motivation

  • The manager just has to review employees evaluation to approve, edit or change – this makes it a collaboration rather than a one-way evaluation

  • During the employee’s quarterly review, together they agree on the few 3 to 5 proficiencies to work on for the quarter – this makes the quarterly review focus on key proficiencies and keeps it manageable for the employee

  • The manager can now run the quarterly review as a joint effort, rather than a one-way appraisal

The quarterly review, as part of an employee development plan can massively increase work performance

Using an employee development plan in this way can develop massive performance improvement in your employees.

You are now building performance improvement right into their quarterly review – and making it easier to affect positive change in your employee.

If you need a perfectly designed, lean Employee Development Plan Template, that includes plenty of quarterly review examples, I offer one here: 

How the quarterly employee review template can become a powerful tool for employers

When your quarterly review is a part of an employee development plan template, it changes the entire dynamic of the employer-employee relationship.

The manager and employee are both working together toward shared goals of performance improvement.

This builds in numerous advantages to the quarterly review, because it can now provide multiple ways to improve work performance:  

  • As an employee coaching plan: manager and employee working together on specific skills development

  • As a leadership development plan: the individual development plan can include leadership skills as part of its focus

  • As a professional development plan: the CDP allows for a wide scope of skills development

  • For career development goals: you can address both long term and short term career goals for employee

  • One of the best ways to improve work performance: as the employee rates their job proficiencies each quarter, they quickly grasp the entire overall scope of their job roles

  • For strategic career planning: the employee quarterly review can now home in on critical key career planning goals

How to use the quarterly employee review as a smart way to handle employee behavior issues: for example coaching an employee with a negative attitude.

One of the big benefits of making the quarterly review part of an employee development plan, is how you can use it as a device to handle employee behavior issues.

Using the soft skills proficiencies area of the development plan, you can address almost any interpersonal communications issue. You can avoid needing disciplinary action or being confrontational.

Take for an example, if you are coaching employee with a negative attitude.

Rather than confront them, you can add the specific issue as a soft skill to improve.

You use any number of proficiencies to do this, such as  ‘communicating with tact’ ‘communicating with respect’  ‘professional conduct’ or ‘show patience in dealing with internal employees’ etc.

Then you can tightly focus on the source of the employee frustration, and they can work to develop self discipline over the quarter.

Try this free Employee development plan example in PDF and Excel to customize your employees individual career development plan:

Final thoughts on maximizing your employee quarterly review

The quarterly employee review can be your most powerful employee development tool, if used in conjunction with an employee development plan.

You are missing an opportunity if you do not use the EDP it to its fullest extent to:

  • To develop key employee job proficiencies, soft skills and interpersonal communication skills

  • To build an employer-employee collaborative partnership

  • To manage employee behavioral issues

  • To develop strategic employee professional development

Note: This guide is written by a real human, synthesizing many years of experience and research to provide you a solution.

It was not written by an A.I. bot that ‘covers all the bases’ by rehashing other articles, yet doesn’t provide you with true human-helpful conclusions.

About the author:

Larry LaFata is the founder of defineyourcareer.com. He is a Career Mindset Coach and a Career Development Coach.

Larry LaFata, founder DefineYourCareer.com

He is dedicated to help you discover your Career Destiny, regardless of your background, education or experience.

Larry’s innovative courses include:

  • Define Your Career Destiny a one week home study course

  • Career Developmetnt Plan Template Kit – with customizable templates & examples in PDF and Excel

  • Career Development Training Workshops
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Larry Lafata, Career Discovery Coach

Larry LaFata is founder of defineyourcareer.com and the world’s only Career Discovery Coach. He is dedicated to help you discover your Career Destiny, regardless of your background, education or experience. His innovative courses include Define Your Career Destiny one week home study course and Career Destiny Workshop for Besties.

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