How to Conduct Performance Reviews for Managers?

by Srikant Chellappa Jan 19,2022

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

A top-down performance review is the norm in most organizations. Employees sit anxiously as their managers rate and rank them based on their performance during the current year. The problem is, the report is only coming from the managers to their employees and not the other way around.

Study by Gallup shows managers contribute significantly (up to 70%) to how engaged an employee is at their jobs. Another showed that 71% of managers agree that employee engagement is an important factor that affects an organization’s success. So, when direct managers influence employees’ performance, why aren’t there more bottom-top performance reviews for managers?

Also read: What Is A Performance Management System?

Although this article may not directly answer this question, we will discuss the importance of a performance reviews for managers, the points to note when conducting one, and what to evaluate when carrying one out.

What is a Performance Review?

Before we drive into the article, we will quickly define performance review. A performance review is an assessment that aims to identify strengths and weaknesses, grade the work done in the past year, and give constructive feedback to improve the person under review. The goal of a performance review is to make sure the receiver can improve.

The aim is to develop the person to contribute better to the organization’s mission. A study by emplify showed      20% of totally disengaged employees cause massive productive losses for a company. So, every individual performance review matters – including the managers.

Importance of Conducting Performance Reviews for Managers

A line manager is also an employee. The crucial difference is that they are to watch over other employees. This means they are not exempt from being reviewed either. That’s why here we show why performance reviews for management are crucial.

  • Strengthen Employee Engagement

A study by Cio showed that when employee engagement is low, it leads to people leaving their jobs, and for others, it means not giving their 100% in the office. Many employees would love to give their managers feedback to improve their work relationships, but most companies do not have that built-in into their system. A performance review for managers signals to the employee that the company cares about their voice – and wants to hear from the employees about their management. It’s a great way to boost employee engagement. 

Also read: Goal Setting Software Guide For CIOs
  • Helps to Identify Leadership Problems

Most managers in leadership positions got there because they showed consistently outstanding results or, for a select few, a reward for their loyalty. Most managers aren’t born leaders. They learn this trait while working and grow into that position with time and training. Employees carrying out a performance appraisal can help pinpoint areas of weakness their managers can work on, and other aspects that may require training.

  • Improves Work Environment

The worst kind of workplace to be at is the toxic type. And to develop a productive working space. There is a need to clear the air of tensions among workers, side comments, and unsatisfactory conditions in the office. One way of doing this is by conducting a performance appraisal. Employees who have received feedback during their performance review can also “rate” their manager. 

It’s a great way to exchange feedback and is also a good conversation starter. It allows employees and managers to be more honest with themselves. And they can work together towards improving their working condition. If management sees no improvement from the team, they can step in and handle the case themselves.

Points to Note When Conducting Reviews for Managers

While it is significant to look at a team’s review from both sides (employees and managers), it is also vital to know how best to carry out a manager’s performance review in the workplace. Unlike an employee’s review, where a manager rates a subordinate, in a manager’s review subordinates review the manager. 

This dynamic can lead to a power play by the manager, like intimidations and threats that affect the result. To avoid this, here are some steps you can take when conducting a manager’s appraisal review.

  • Make the Review Process Confidential

The most important aspect of the process is to maintain confidentiality. This confidentiality means that all the reviews should be anonymous to everyone, including the HR personnel, who is likely to be in charge of the process. Doing this gives the staff members the confidence to express themselves freely without worrying about any backlash from the manager.

  • Ask Specific Questions But Allow for Clarification

The questions should be specific. They can come in different formats, including the Likert scale questions format, Yes or no format, and open-ended formats. The Likert scale asks a question and gives you a range of options to pick an answer. 

For example: How knowledgeable is your manager about their job? Instead of two extremes, like a yes or no going for “Strongly Disagree,” “Disagree,” “Unsure,” “Agree,” and “Strongly Agree” give you a broader range of options to choose from.

Yes or No question formats are straight to the point. The questions demand that the employees give a yes or no answer. Open-ended questions need the employees to go into details. It provides room to explain the problem and suggest potential solutions for them.

Most performance reviews are a mix of two of these formats and styles. Management will need to encourage employees to answer the questions to the best of their ability to get fair reviews of the manager.

  • Take Prompt Action

It should not be all talk. Acting on the problem as fast as possible is as essential as conducting the performance review itself. This act tells the employees that you take them and the appraisal seriously. If the problems are not as pressing, management can take their time but should realize that the longer they take, the more those minor issues fester and disrupt the employees working under such managers.

  • Monitor the Process

The last point to note when conducting a manager’s performance review is to monitor the changes you have implemented. Carrying out surveys with employees, stopping by for inspections, and monitoring the performance of the manager and their team is a vital step. It ensures that the solution is long term and gives management something to compare for the next review.

What to Evaluate When Conducting the Review?

When evaluating employees’ performance, there are skills the manager assesses. They assess their work ethics, problem-solving skills, collaboration, and decision-making. In the same way, employees will need to review their manager’s skill set. We will briefly discuss them.

  • Supervisory Skills

Supervisory skills monitor the manager’s ability to organize, direct, and oversee his team. This skill will rate his ability to explain the details of a job, correct it with accurate instructions and guide their team to achieve their goals. Staff members can share their experiences of when the manager showed supervisory skills. Management can also ask staff members to share an incident when they didn’t show these.

  • Communication Skills

Communication skills are an essential skill to have in the workplace. The team members will appraise the supervisor on how well they can make their point. The staff members will review the supervisor on their ability to give clear and concise instructions.

How often do they engage in providing constructive feedback? Do they go over to re-explain a task if not clearly understood by a team member? These are also some other questions that management will ask under this skill set.

Team members will need to give examples of the manager’s communication skills. Communication can also cover communicating outside the workplace.

  • Emotional Intelligence 

In modern times, emotional intelligence has become a crucial part of management. It determines how well managers can handle conflict and embraces emotional vulnerability. The conflict may be internal, meaning a team member is battling out-of-work issues. Or external, which is between two or more team members. 

How good are they at encouraging, motivating during tough times, and connecting with their team? Can the person control themselves when angry? How does the person relate and interact with other members of the team?

Staff members will review their performance based on how their manager treats them.

  • Strategic Planning Skills

The reason companies appoint or promote most people into a managerial role is because of their strategic planning skills. They will assess the manager based on their ability to plan, if the manager had the foresight of noting the organizational goal while planning for the team, and how well they adapt when unforeseen circumstances render the initial plan useless. Strategic planning will mean the manager is knowledgeable and flexible enough to make calls that benefit the team and, by extension, the company.

Also Read: How To Build A Successful Upskilling And Reskilling Program


Performance reviews for managers are as important as performance review for employees. It gives them a better understanding and insights into how they work and helps them improve.

Want to know how Engagedly can help you conduct performance reviews for managers? Request for a live demo.

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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