Josh LanceJosh Lance
Start-Ups: Getting Started with Performance Reviews

Start-Ups: Getting Started with Performance Reviews

Performance reviews have a negative connotation.  You are rolling your eyes already, aren’t you?  Yes, they are often thought of as time consuming to prepare for and awkward to sit through, for both employee and manager.  And for start-ups in particular, one of the advantages is a company culture where there’s close interaction between the owner and employees, according to an article from  The article points out that it’s easy to understand why “small business owners may wish to avoid the formalities of bigger corporations – such as written reviews – out of concern that such procedures would ruin the “family-like” atmosphere of the workplace”.  But we know that employees need feedback, and need to be allowed the time and space to provide feedback as well!  So here are some quick tips to help make getting started with the performance review process a little easier:

  1. Simple – keep the review you will fill out simple to prepare and simple to understand.  You can start with the job description and use a numbering scale from 1-5 for each of their job responsibilities.  Save written comments for the end when summarizing areas of improvement or goals.
  2. Self-evaluation – have the employee evaluate themselves before you sit down for the review.  It will help the conversation along if they’ve taken the time to honestly assess how they are performing as well.  
  3. Suggestions – be sure to leave time for the employee to comment on any suggestions they have on how they could perform their job better, processes and procedures in place or even new ideas for the company.
  4. Solutions – your feedback coupled with their self-assessment will usually flush out some areas of improvement, changes that can be made in the way they do their job and goals for the future.  Work together to find solutions that both you and the employee are happy with, and then include them at the end of the review so that everyone is on the same page.  

The review process doesn’t have to be thought of as a dreaded, formal meeting that will waste everyone’s time.  If you treat it like a conversation where both parties are open to feedback and suggestions, it will only enhance productivity, morale and the relationship between owner and employee!

Blog post by Susan Heidenreich

About Josh Lance

A licensed certified public accountant (IL) and Chartered Global Management Accountant, Josh is also a family man who calls Chicago home.  Before venturing on his own with a mission to help small businesses, Josh spent his early career at a top-10 national public accounting firm before working at an ultra high net worth family office.  Josh is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  He enjoys making wine at home, cooking, traveling, and cheering on his favorite football and soccer teams. Josh was honored by being selected to the 2017 class of the AICPA Leadership Academy and was named as one of the 40 under 40 in 2017 by CPA Practice Advisor.