Stick with me folks! Those two little words employee reviews makes us automatically cringe and mentally flee into all sorts of unpleasant thoughts and even sweat a little!

That’s how I used to feel. I always thought there was so much more to it that I didn’t know; a secret society of hush-hush knowledge. Maybe there is and I’m blissfully unaware! If you’re anything like me I’d procrastinate, second guess myself to death and automatically assume ‘bad things’ had to be spoken about. It’s just stressful, for us AND them. But do it, we must.
This year I decided to bring a little me into the mix instead of trying to fit a rubber stamped mold of yester year. Let me tell you the reviews where FUN! They were full of clarity, interesting topics relating to the persons individuality and surprises of generosity which always feels good. Here’s what I did –


I implemented small surprises totally unexpected, such as a few paid days off for a part-time employee who’s not eligible for company paid time off, a contribution towards a student loan or health savings plan, paying for education exams, and allowing additional time off to study for the CPA exam. How I came up with what would matter is by knowing them and asking what would matter most? Paid time off for a young mom is tear inducing! Or not realizing that medical bill was the one item left along a battle of debt pay-down. These things cost the company the least but they meant the most. I highly suggest doing this and not just annually, pop in the surprises throughout the year.

Personal Goals 

I heard about this through Ramsey Solutions. They know the personal goals of their team and the company does what they can to help further them along. This can give you a clue into what would be a great surprise for them. Showing you care about their personal goals shows that you care about THEM not just what they produce for you. You’ll find you’ll get invested in those personal goals too. I wrote them into their formal review documents so I can remind myself of them easily.


this was FUN and hugely valuable. Coming up through the business owner world we’ve all heard about employee personality testing. This is similar but user friendly and wildly helpful. I used Ramsey’s DISC system which is online and costs only $29.95. You answer odd questions there’s no way to be right or wrong and poof out comes a full report of your personality. It speaks to your social comfort levels, how you communicate best, what type of work you excel at, tips for staying motivated and areas to watch out for and improve. Ramsey’s whole 800+ team performs these and they are public knowledge. Our company did the same. We used these as part of our review. Why? They were so dead on it was fun and a little shocking! We used the reports to evaluate what each person was doing and if it was a natural fit to their strengths. Anytime you align with your strengths you’ll be at your best. We saw some people excelled at details and accuracy and now they are going to try out tax work. People seeing their strengths was awesome. Even though I would say it to them, the combo of me saying so and seeing an unbiased report confirming gave them instant confidence they could rise into new areas. And it gave confidence to me that I’m setting the stage for work that would fulfill them. We used the report for a recent new hire so we could plan the work we’d assign to match her strengths. I’m a believer can you tell! Here’s the link to buy, I’d suggest try it for yourself first. See for yourself how spot on it is and how you could use its information for your team.

Buy Ramsey's DISC Test 

Lastly, raises and salary decisions are always stressful. How do we really know what we should be paying? Often we wing it, I guess that works, but being armed with clarity is a lot better. We use Indeed for job postings; they have a salary provider feature where you can search local and national pay scales for specific jobs. Use it as a guide; be sure to get local numbers as they can be quite different from national ones. I printed multiple reports and brought them to the reviews so people could see the market rates for their position. Now they can make educated decisions if they want to develop skills for a higher paying position, or if they are content to stay put. They realize the financial limits as no company can keep paying higher forever for the same level of responsibility, at some point there is a ceiling. Give them the choice with clarity.
Following these steps along with a personalized company review form took what was once a painful experience into a fun, interactive, growing experience for both me as the leader and the team. Check-in 3-6 months later, remind them of the goals you set for the year, do your part and don’t forget about surprises and their personal goals. Pizza lunch doesn’t cut it. Make it personal to them. We spend a lot of time together, it’s more enjoyable when you truly know and support one another.