When talking about performance reviews, usually the first thing that comes to mind is annual, quarterly, or monthly employee performance reviews they get from their managers (with more frequent check-ins leading to better engagement).
But, going the other way around, and collecting what employees have to say about managers is also incredibly important. After all, managers are in charge of running the teams, and team members are the best people to ask how things are going from within.
However, collecting or giving feedback for the sake of it doesn't do much good – the key is to get meaningful feedback.
This article will tell you more about the importance of the manager performance review process and give you a step-by-step guide and examples. With those, you will be able to create an effective performance review at your firm and use constructive feedback to improve your team's performance across the entire organization.
What is a manager performance review?
Manager performance review involves assessing performance by collecting and giving feedback to a manager or supervisor.
Collecting feedback from people who are managed and supervised by the manager is exceptionally important. It can uncover details that simple team performance statistics won't show, especially regarding people management and interpersonal skills the manager possesses.
Manager performance review: A step-by-step guide
The problem with manager performance reviews is that subordinate employees often feel that giving honest feedback can backfire and get them in trouble, as they are rating the person in charge.
That's why taking a step-by-step approach is important, not just forcing team members to review their managers out of the blue.
Create a strong feedback culture
Creating a feedback culture can start even during the recruitment process – let candidates know why you chose them or have decided to pick someone else.
But this is something that should continue during their tenure at your company:
- Promote communication – Praising people who do well will create healthy competition. The same goes for supporting those who are going through a rough spot. Constant communication and frequent updates will keep everyone engaged.
- Conduct regular employee performance reviews – Not only that providing regular feedback will build a feedback culture and improve performance, but it will also show people how they should do it. They can always get back to their last monthly report and get ideas on what to focus on.
- Encourage peer-to-peer feedback – Once employees get used to rating each other and giving and receiving constructive criticism, rating their supervisors will no longer be an issue.
Communicate the manager performance review purpose and benefits
If all team members know why you want to conduct a manager performance review and the benefits it brings, they won't be as reluctant to give their honest opinions. Here's how it helps organizations:
- Improved communication – Sometimes managers don't realize their behavior might be causing issues with certain individuals, as they think they are doing it in everyone's best interest. The feedback they receive will help them align their personal and team goals with companies, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
- Improved performance – With quality feedback, managers will not only see where they should improve but also how to do it. The performance review will serve as a pool of ideas to further their career.
- Future promotions – Just like with subordinates, managers and supervisors can climb the corporate ladder too. Regular positive feedback from the entire team indicates that the person is doing a good job, and managers also need recognition to be motivated to do their job well.
Define objectives and key performance areas
To ensure employees stay on target, it's important to define objectives and key performance areas they should focus on in their reviews. These can be:
- Leading by example
- Empowering employees
- Good communication
- Industry knowledge
- Setting clear goals
While you can also include some hard stats specific to your field (profit margins, growth rates, and similar), those usually show in sheets and CRMs anyway. So focus on those questions that will uncover how good that person is as a team leader, as that's something only subordinates can tell accurately.
Choose the correct feedback methodology and frequency
As for the methodology, the feedback you collect from employees should be anonymous to avoid uncomfortable situations. Employee focus groups are another method that can work, especially if you have larger teams. 360-degree feedback and direct reports are another option, where other managers and stakeholders will play a role too.
Regarding frequency, it might not be the best idea to give employee-to-manager feedback too often. It takes time to implement managerial changes and also to notice them, so you probably won't accomplish much if you repeat the whole process monthly. Collecting feedback quarterly will be a better option.
But, if you run a project-based business, collecting feedback once the project finishes makes sense, especially if you create/disband teams for specific projects. That way, every team member will get to examine their managers and be more likely to leave an honest review.
Educate employees on how to give effective feedback
We have mentioned that building a helpful feedback culture by giving and collecting feedback constantly will not only encourage employees to do so but will also give them practical examples and teach them how to do it right. But, directly explaining to them how to provide feedback also matters:
- Be specific: Encourage them to give examples of what they like and dislike instead of using vague phrases.
- Leave constructive comments: If employees learn how to leave constructive feedback, they will be able to be honest and tell what's wrong without insulting anyone.
- Focus on action: Tied to the points from above, if they give an actual example that tells the manager where the issue is and how to improve it, they will help the person advance their career instead of hurting their feelings.
- Make it goal-oriented: If employees tie their feedback to a team/company goal, the manager will see how changing their behavior can benefit the entire organization.
Analyze feedback and create action plans
Lastly, if you only collect feedback for the sake of it, you are wasting everyone's time. Analyze the information collected, identify patterns, and create action plans to help managers make the right moves. That way, they will know exactly what to work on, and it will be much easier to compare the results when you receive new updates from the next feedback cycle.
Manager performance review examples
To help you with ideas you can give to employees, here are five positive and five examples of constructive performance review phrases:
Positive manager performance review examples
- I love that you lead by example and show us how to communicate effectively, manage conflicts and achieve performance objectives on time.
- You have strong communication skills and are always polite and respectful, even when we make mistakes.
- You are very flexible and willing to find a solution on the go to get things done, which is incredibly inspiring.
- You have an excellent leadership style and are ready to stand up for the team when we face difficult client situations and calm everything down.
- You have excellent time management skills, ensuring the tasks are properly delegated so we rarely feel overwhelmed with work.
Constructive manager performance review examples
- You are an expert in our field, but it would be much better if you could trust us and delegate more tasks instead of trying to do everything yourself and micromanage employee's performance.
- While you do a good job ensuring we complete the projects on time, our task prioritization and productivity could improve so we don't always have to rush to meet deadlines.
- While you are a living knowledge base and can solve every issue, it would be nice to work on your coaching and training skills to transfer that knowledge to team members instead of solving everything yourself.
- You are very flexible and adaptable, which shows in our job performance, as we can complete everything on time. However, more consistency in your management would be nice, as we sometimes don't know where we stand until the project finishes, which creates stress.
- Solving customer crises is one of your best traits, and it would be nice if you took that same approach when tackling inter-team conflicts instead of relying on us to solve them on our own.
As you can see, continuous performance management reviews are a valuable tool to improve the leadership quality at your firm. Through constructive performance reviews, your managers will get actionable tips to help their professional development and align their managerial style with the team's preferences and organizational goals.
How do you write a performance review for a manager?
The most important thing when writing an employee performance review for a manager is being honest, respectful, and specific. The feedback should also be constructive, telling the manager what and how they should improve after receiving it.
What is a manager-level performance review?
Manager-level performance appraisals involve collecting feedback from employees and subordinates to rate the past performance of the person in charge of the team. The process will help uncover some hidden flaws that are otherwise invisible when looking at team performance statistics and also help you understand which managers deserve promotion due to their exceptional performance.
How do you comment on overall performance?
Overall performance comments should briefly summarize the entire managerial style, skills, and knowledge of the person receiving feedback and focus on their key strengths and areas of improvement. It should not contrast the rest of the performance review, only summarize it.