Key Strengths in Performance Reviews

Written by dan chruscinski
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Writing a performance review can be just as nerve-racking an experience for the manager as it is for the employee to read it. To help alleviate the stress of creating a comprehensive review, work in concepts known as "key strengths." These strengths are areas in which an employee excels and can also serve as the jumping off point for improvements. Key strengths will provide an outline for your review and keep your employee engaged in the process rather than defensive.


The goal of using key strengths in a performance review is to create a foundation. Rather than starting off a review attacking an employee's weaknesses or reading off sales numbers, start with his key strengths. Once the key strengths are known, the rest of the review will be about using each key strength to both commend your employee as well as guide him towards overcoming his flaws.

Determining Key Strengths

Write down a list of four or five events in which your employee has excelled. For example, he may have stayed at work late every day for a week to finish an important project, or he landed more new clients than any other employee. Note commonalities in each event. Staying late to finish projects or volunteering to lead teams shows dedication, while obtaining clients shows ambition and sales skills. These commonalities are the key strengths of your employee. Write down around five key strengths and use them as the start of each section in your review.

Overcome Weaknesses

With key strengths will be room for improvement on the part of your employee. If you have found that an employee leaves work early on a consistent basis, write this down, along with any other ways in which he needs improvement. After you have a list of necessary improvements, pair them with key strengths that can help overcome these flaws. For example, you have an employee with excellent people skills but he prepares reports that are disorganised. You can show your employee that he can work his social skills into reports by perhaps giving presentations rather than paper reports. Try to pair any downsides you can think of with a strength to help constructively assess flaws.

The Review

Present your employee with his key strengths and any weaknesses he needs to improve upon. Ask your employee how he feels he can extend his key strengths into other aspects of the job. Also, ask your employee how he feels he can overcome weaknesses with the help of his strengths. Create a plan with your employee that states some goals for your employee to achieve. The key strengths you have outlined will be the tools he can use to reach each goal.

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