In my experience, the full benefit of performance reviews is not typically achieved. My top three suggestions to increase their effectiveness are:
No surprises: An individual should not be surprised by feedback at a performance review. Feedback should be given throughout the year so the individual knows how they are getting on. If there is a culture of surprises at appraisal time, this leads to nervousness and difficult conversations which can be easily avoided. If you are in this situation now with reviews coming up, it might be worth putting yourself in the individual’s shoes so you can decide how best to give the feedback.
Treat reviews as sacrosanct in your diary. Often reviews are postponed, rushed or even cancelled, all of which send the wrong message to the individual. If this meeting is treated as important it sends a message to the individual that they are important to you and the organisation.
Try to avoid an over-emphasis on scores: Scores often end up hijacking appraisal meetings. It may be worth leaving any scoring until the second half of the meeting, so you can focus on having a meaningful discussion about the individual’s career and contribution to the organisation in the past year and also in the future. Of course scores may come into it, but it should not be the singular focus of the meeting.
Finally, I came across this article recently by Paula Weir which may be worth reading especially if you are embarking on performance reviews in the coming weeks or months (Annual Review Meetings).