Beyond Annual Reviews: Understanding Different Types of Employee Feedback

November 30, 2020


Human capital is one of the most invaluable assets for any organization or business. Employee feedback or reviews analyze how well this asset is being used to meet the company’s goals, and more so, how well each employee is utilizing their potential.

Different companies adopt different approaches to these reviews with the following being the common types of employee feedback processes

1. Self-Evaluation

This type of review gives the employee a voice, allowing them to judge their performance against a set of standards or criteria. This type of reviews is very subjective, and it’s only expected that employees would grade themselves quite highly.

The manager will then compare the employee’s score with their own. This is followed by a discussion on identified problem areas and performance gaps, and the best strategies to rectify these gaps.

The level of employee engagement that this review method offers renders it very transparent and removes uncertainty from the process. It also gives employees the freedom to rectify performance gaps and set new goals.

2. Management by Objectives (MBO)

This performance review method involves including employees in the goal-setting process. With this method, managers, in collaboration with employees, will develop specific, and measurable goals that are to be met within set deadlines.

With defined goals to work towards, employees will have a clear understanding of what success and failure means. Being a part of setting goals also helps mitigate employee feelings that reviews are subjective, or that the goals set by management are not properly defined, or are too high.

3. 360-Degree Review

With this method employee feedback is collected from various parties that the employee under review deals with as they work. These parties include peers, subordinates, supervisors, and managers.

Input from the various parties will help to form a more detailed profile of an employee’s knowledge and skills, as well as their behavior, attitude, and interpersonal skills. The various parties will fill out well-designed surveys with questions touching on the various performance elements.

4. Graphic Rating Scale

Popular for its simplicity, this review method ranks employees against set criteria, including traits and attributes, behaviors, competencies, and ratio of project completion. Each criterion is assigned a numerical value, and the total score, as calculated from the various criteria, will determine the employee’s performance.

Getting the best out of this review method requires that both the employer or manager, and the employee agree on and understand where on the scale, failure, or success lies. Is a 3-out-of-5 the threshold for success? Start by having all parties on the same page about the rating scale.

5. Behavioral Checklist

This review method uses a checklist of behaviors, which, if an employee exhibits, will earn him or her a favorable review since exhibiting these behaviors make one a valuable team member. To complete the assessment, an employee will need to give a yes-or-no response to a list of carefully-worded questions. Each question is weighted or matched against a predetermined value.

6. Critical Incident Assessment

It is crucial not to let too much time pass after an incident to evaluate it, as delays can make the review subjective. All employees involved should be given the opportunity to provide feedback on the incident. Since said feedback can be open-ended and open to bias, management will need to come up with checks and balances to help determine whether it is a one-off or part of larger behavioral issues or driven by performance-related deficiencies. Managers will need to independently assess and describe the response or reaction of employees to different situations and incidences as well to provide context.


Each of these feedback or review processes has its own merits. Combining two or more methods usually yields better and more objective results. We encourage all employees to think about how they would fare in each of these scenarios in order to help be self-aware of your shortcomings, and the opportunities to strengthen and improve your performance.

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