My husband and I recently had some of our friends over for dinner. We were enjoying Kansas City barbeque on our porch while all the kids played in the yard. Through the course of the evening, we talked about a lot of things ranging from our kids, our plans for the next month and the TV shows we had been watching.  Before long, our conversation turned to the subject of work. There was one topic that seemed to take over the conversation, which was a bad performance review that Chad had received.

Chad has been an accountant for about four years and has worked for the same company all those years. Over the last six months, he had taken on a project to help with billing inefficiencies in the company, in addition to making it through tax season. He was working an average of 90+ hours a week to complete his required work in addition to help implement the new billing system.

From Chad’s perspective, he was going above and beyond to help the company be successful.

When Chad walked into his performance review, he knew something was off. His manager was nowhere to be seen and a different manager was sitting across the conference table from him with a stern look on her face. To say the least, this wasn’t what Chad was expecting.

As he began the conversation, he thought he would be thanked for all his hard work, but the conversation that happened was one of frustration with his work. It became clear in the performance review that Chad’s manager was upset that over the last six months Chad had been putting all the time into the new system. However, his manager didn’t seem to find it important to mention it until the time of his performance review…which he didn’t show up for.

As Chad left his performance review, he had lots of things going through his mind. He was deflated, embarrassed, and ready to look for a new job. I’m sure that you have heard these types of performance review stories, just like I have. Many times, in small business, performance reviews can so easily be dismissed because they do take time and they do make people uncomfortable. However, if you want to continue to grow your people, it is something that you have to make a priority for your business. One of the most powerful tools you have to either build up your employees or tear them down is the performance review.

Three things managers need to keep in mind during a performance review:

  1. Even if you are getting ready to give a positive performance review, your employee is going to be nervous.

Before you walk into the performance review, put yourself in your employee’s shoes. We often encourage owners and managers to take their employees to a coffee shop or a meal outside of the dealership for their performance review. It tends to take their stress level down and open a more honest conversation.


  1. The performance review should never be the first time an employee hears about a problem from you.

 If there is an issue with one of your employees, it is vitally important that you address it quickly and efficiently. As a parent, if I wanted one of my kids to start making their bed on a daily basis, in order to get a behavioral change, I would need to address it immediately and daily. It wouldn’t be something that I kept a tally of over a six month time period, and then present to them logically at the end of the year. That wouldn’t change the behavior for my kids and it won’t change the behavior of your employees.


  1. You have to spend time preparing for the review.

Yes, performance reviews take time, but the result is well worth it. We encourage all the dealerships we work with to perform what we call “360 reviews”. These are reviews done by both the manager and the employee in order to see any differences in understanding how things are going. These can be found in our Dealer Toolbox under the Management Tab.


Three things employees need to keep in mind during a performance review:

  1. A bad performance review should be a wakeup call, not something to end your job over.

 Yes, you are deflated. Yes, you might be embarrassed or angry. But, leaving the meeting defensive is not the way to handle it. Be open to the information and find ways to engage in the conversation.


  1. Regardless if you have a good or bad performance review, ask for next steps.

 As you are having the conversation with your manager, understand what they expect as you move forward. It’s important to ask for specific next steps in order to grow your skill and value to the dealership.


  1. You have to spend time preparing for the review.

 A performance review will take some time to prepare for on your side, just like it does for your manager. But, the time you spend preparing will be well worth it as you continue your career with the dealership.